The Space that hosts the ‘Objects in a Field’ exhibition at the Camilla Grimaldi Gallery is a new space, recently opened it isn’t well indicated on the outside and enjoying the torrent of rainfall on the Old Burlington Road whilst trying to hunt down the entrance was an act of determination. Rickett’s work had been pointed out to me by my tutor and in particular the use of text, and so therefore I expected to see the text that I had already read being associated with the work. Not only did I not see it on the wall (the text was available as a booklet) but it was being read by Dr Willstrop (i) in a video presentation; the second of two disjuncture’s to deal with on the day. I had previously ‘read’ the text as a female narrator, so listening and viewing a man deliver the text provided an interesting challenge to how I had interpreted the narrative. Similarly I had ‘seen’ the images in a completely different scale to what I found on the wall.
The image ‘Observation 111’ I had ‘seen’ as a moderately sized print, when in actuality the diameter of the ‘galaxial view’ is about a yard. This size invited this viewer to both stand back and admire the scale, but also to peer into the image, to try and make sense of the depth of detail; I find the notion of ‘space’ difficult to comprehend, the vastness, the seemingly endlessness of it all and the inconsequential nature of our existence in that limitless space. And by peering I noticed something that I had overlooked previously, at the top of the circle was a niche, which first reminded me of a ‘sun flare’, an ‘escape’ from the retaining forces that hold these huge vastnessess in check. It was a trigger that held me, something that I could grasp; it seemed to present a sense of scale, but when I looked at a couple of other similar exposures there was the same promontory at the same place on the print. I had a chat with one of the gallery staff who seemed to know a lot about Rickett’s work and she told me that it was a ‘North’ point; a register to provide calibration, which of course seemed a reasonable feature in a scientific instrument and then looking at ‘Observation 123’ I notice the twin variances; the image has been rotated and is printed in negative form. I checked with the artist and this was done for purely aesthetic reasons, saying also that it provided a greater dynamic; I’m not so sure about the dynamic change, I inverted it to see how it looked, but then my monitor isn’t large enough to test the hypothesis, I think the image of the comet would be dynamic in whichever form it is displayed.
An integral part of the exhibition, of which the images are but part, is the use of narrative. There is a pamphlet of ten sides which is a text about a couple of things, the first about the artist meeting with Dr Willstrop but also about when she had her eyes tested, or perhaps more accurately her reaction to the process by which she had her eyes tested. The words though are spoken by Dr. Willstrop on a video which is being constantly played. Again I am surprised to hear these words, which are very clearly set in my mind as those of the author being spoken by someone else, a man. That this someone else is the catalyst that provoked the work at the Institute of Astonomy is a delightful contrivance; the video has him grinding the glass lens that he use in the telescope he has retired from, glass is the means by which we are allowed to insulate ourselves from and also by which we can amplify their existence in the frame of view, lenses draw things closer, present them, shield us, open up vistas decoupled by a medium that allows only light to penetrate leaving all other senses devoided of interaction. The narrative is the adhesive element by which this whole project seems to coalesce and aesthetic choices about position and scale, leaflet and video are all supportive of that chronicling of the artist’s experience.
(i) See Photoparley piece here