Elly Clarke - Time and Place
Time & Place
by Elle Clarke
A new series of photo-composites from single edition 6"x4" photographs from the artists personal archive.
18th June - 28 July 2009
Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich, London SE18 4QH
Open 8am-8pm daily
Review of Elly Clarke's "Time and Place" by Lee Campbell.
Enter the hospital and turn left in the direction of Pathology. Avoid collision with the patient trolleys and doctors and nurses busy on life-saving missions. Past the restaurant and through the swing doors and up the ramped floor, you are indeed on a stairway to heaven, final stop the mortuary. Yet between life and death, there is contemplation. Gaston Bachelard's seminal work, "Poetics of Space" (1958) speaks of how our surroundings affect our perceptions and experiences. Seeking to connect people with the latent spirituality of an environment, highlighting certain behavioural idiosyncrasies and addressing the poetics of a space can challenge any artist. Functioning as both art showcase and last stop before the mortuary, Elly's "self portraits" capturing man's compulsive restlessness for new experiences by juxtaposing a multitude of random locations, are exactly what the doctor ordered. How many of us have taken delight in spreading a box of old photographs across the floor to recollect places and people loved and lost? Order is given to the eclectic collage by Elly's visual arrest in terms of judging complimentary or contradicting line, form, shape and colour relationships between two images yet retaining a child's play. Seeing our memories through a child's eyes can bring sheer delight. A child with a camera will snap and snap as long as he can. How can we know what is truly worth remembering? Her sometimes banal subject matter of "incidentals" and "indistinguishables" may "trigger" a memory for the artist and audience alike. Images both empty and full, nod to painterly formalism thus elevating the soon obsolete 6x4 format used here from being just a series of holiday snaps. This very private recollection of an artist's journey, allows the audience to recognise a number of settings and scenarios without ever having been there. We are then given further clues to their exact identity by name tags of places and dates, yet the poetics in the work come from not knowing where many of the works were composed. Social networking sites such as Blogger and Facebook allow access to our personal journey's at speed for all the world to see. We upload instantly and share with our friends. We have erased the wait for what could be a disappointing coloured print as in "olden days". For the amateur, rolls and rolls of film would be developed post summer holiday expedition to find a few photographic "hits".Yet lets celebrate the "misses". In our digital revolution, many images are taken and then simply deleted. How can we say in years to come what it was that actually helped us to remember an experience?
Visual language impacts all avenues of our lives, in our domestic home lives and institutional environments we may be familiar with and those not so on a daily basis. We only need cite architect David Adjaye's coloured windows on Tower Hamlet's Idea Store library spaces referencing 1930's modernism of simple colour acting as a reflective and harmonising experience. Adjaye transformed a pre-supposed mundane setting into something vibrant, funky and a benefit to the whole community. At the start of the year I met Victoria Hume, Arts Manager for Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Trust who has for a number of years successfully integrated art works into the hospital environment with various site-specific art works and events providing a contemplative pause in for what can be a period of distress for both patients and their families alike. Removing the idea of hospital art as being mere "universal social decoration", Hume elevates morale with her thought-provoking and challenging interventions which have blossomed into a number of off-site projects. Elly's work indeed extends this, providing poetic triggers to an otherwise impersonal and here somewhat eerie environment.Elly Clarke LPA Folio