Friday, 14 July 2017



Curated by Rebecca Fairman and  Paul Carey-Kent at Arthouse1, 45 Grange Road, Bermondsey

To 30 July, open Thursday to Sunday 3pm - 7pm

Part of a free artwalk, with curators and artists present, on Sat 29 July - see 
The curators of ‘Make a Mark’ have taken their cue from filmmaker and author Barry Bliss, whose recent books are influenced by his deep respect for the photojournalism of Gerda Taro, a woman whose ideological integrity and eye for detail characterized her photographs of the Spanish Civil War.

Initially, Taro teamed up with her partner Endre Friedmann using the pseudonym Robert Capa, but soon broke away creating her own pseudonym of Gerda Taro (her real name being Gerta Pohorylle) Taro’s work was widely celebrated at the time, especially the images she took at the Battle for Brunete. In July 1937, a tank struck her as it collided with the vehicle she was hitching a lift on and she tragically died of her injuries aged just 26. Over time, Taro’s achievements faded and were eclipsed by her surviving partner who continued as Robert Capa.  Capa, as we know, went on to further fame, co-founding the ground-breaking Magnum Agency.

In recent years, Taro’s own work has returned to wide respect, and using the same 1932 Leica camera used by Taro, Bliss went ‘out in the field’ - albeit a less dangerous one! - to photograph 30 contemporary women artists working in London. With a reportage approach, rather than an Art critical one, Bliss sought to reveal the women behind the work they do, with photographic portraits and artists’ comments.

Each black and white portrait is notable for its simplicity; each time, just a woman in her studio. There’s no studio paraphernalia in shot and no posed action shots ‘à la Pollock’. Direct and communicative, the photographs remove barriers; you feel like a witness. The accompanying texts, however interesting, remind you that you are a recipient. That’s the power of the photographic image, however staged it is or isn’t, we will always trust it and own it more easily, over the written word. Even though we’re so well aware in the digital age that photographic truth is a far from simple matter, we are quite simply, less encumbered by the filters through which the message travels.

Grasping the baton from Bliss, Rebecca Fairman and Paul Carey-Kent give us what could be described as a natural epilogue to Bliss’s book. In ‘Make a Mark’ at Arthouse1 the work of ten of the women from Bliss’s book is shown. Here too, the women are not allowed to remain in the wings but must further personalise the experience by nominating a personal object of their choosing.

The curators have commented that Bliss’s photographs seem to capture “the determined start of the creative process, before a mark is made.” In this exhibition we can also see the determined end of the creative process. The mark has been made!

Artists Wesite links:   Katrina Blannin, Jane Bustin, Rebecca Byrne, Claudia Carr, Emma Cousin, Sharon Drew, Roxana Halls, Selma Parlour, Carol Robertson and Yukako Shibata

Barry Bliss

For Make a Mark I photographed 30 women painters against a simple white background, wearing their ‘work’ clothes and holding their most cherished brush. I used the exact same model 1932 Leica II camera, exhibited here, as Gerda       Taro did in the Spanish Civil War. The painters follow on from the project Art as an Act of War, in which 30 photographers were captured on the same camera, turning the lens       on those usually behind it.

Barry Bliss (born London, 1952) originally studied Art and Design but then specialised in film and started to act. He went on to make films such as ‘The Waves’ (at just 17 in 1969, on Virginia Woolf’s final hours), ‘Fords on Water’ (for Channel 4 in 1983) ‘Poppies’, which premiered at the Imperial War Museums on Armistice Day 2006, and ‘Art Is’ (2013 – a musical about an upcoming female painter). He has also published the novel ‘Hand Upon Heart – The Last Templars’ (2006)

Katrina BlanninMy paintings experiment with simple systems as the means to re-examine historical colour theories and early Renaissance painting conventions. This transfers to an investigative process which asks questions of later constructivist and concrete art, in order to generate new possibilities.  Working with a series of permutations, sequences or with mirror images, rather than a single image, can bring an interesting complexity and inspire ideas about movement. My chosen object, Jeffrey Steele’s Steriomorphic Drawing, c. 2000, made from card and found bits and pieces, represents the influence on my work of our long-standing conversations about art. 

Katrina Blannin lives and works in London. Since graduating from the Royal College of Art in 1997 she has shown her work extensively in the UK and abroad, co-directed artist run project spaces, curated exhibitions and written about contemporary painting. She is currently undertaking a Painting by Practice PhD at the University of Worcester, teaches at Canterbury UCA and Camberwell UAL and works both on the editorial board and for the mentoring programme of Turps Banana.

Jane Bustin
My practice - comprising painting, ceramics, textiles, text and performance - is concerned with deconstructing the formal components of abstraction. I explore the properties and arrangement of materials, extending the links between craft, concept and movement in various research projects, including on medieval female saints, the iconic ballet dancer Nijinsky and 20th century domesticity. I see the work shown as unravelling what takes place in the private space of the studio and the home, so the red lacquer tea bowl is apt: my husband gave it to me for the studio twenty years ago, a symbol of love and generosity for both art and life.

Jane Bustin is represented by Copperfield, London, where she had a solo show in 2016. She was selected for the Whitechapel Gallery’s London Open in 2015, and has also exhibited at the Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh; Salon 94, New York; Royal Academy, London; Walker Gallery, Liverpool and Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge.  She is a recipient of the Pollock-Krasner award.

Rebecca Byrne
My overarching concern is to explore interiority and the psychological impact of space - in particular the spaces that people animate and inhabit, the traces left behind in abandoned and re-purposed spaces, and thresholds into fantastical places that cannot exist. I repeatedly painted the room in which van Gogh lived his last months in the Auberge Revoux, and by mirroring it I was thinking about him having a looking glass view of the world, based on his own interiority. I do a lot of collages to start my paintings, and store their potential materials in the wooden cigar box.

Born in Chicago, Rebecca Byrne lives and works in London, where she completed an MA in Fine Art from The Chelsea College of Art and Design in 2012.  She was a prizewinner at the Creekside Open 2017, and recently had a solo show, linked to a residency at the Vincent Van Gogh Huis Museum, Zundert, and the Netherlands.  Recent London exhibitions include at White Conduit Projects, Unit 1 Gallery, Transition and Lubomirov / Angus-Hughes.

Claudia Carr

My work deals with ‘landscape’ by way of the groups of small objects, often organic matter, that collect and settle together on the shelves and tables in my studio.  Making the painting takes time.  Looking at the same thing for hours and often months on end has an Alice in Wonderland effect:  I feel shrunken, and the once intimate spaces between objects become cavernous and monumental.  Hopefully that ambiguity of scale is then evoked in the work itself. The geological processes that formed the object in the painting are the same processes that bring a painting into being……accretion, erosion, and the way that time embodies itself in matter.

Claudia Carr studied at the Slade School of Fine Art (BA and MA in Painting). She has had London solo shows at Browse and Darby, Whitfield Fine Art and Jessica Carlisle. Her work features in 'Nature Morte: Contemporary artists reinvigorate the Still-Life tradition' (Thames and Hudson, 2015) and will be in the 'Nature Morte' Guildhall show this September. She is a visiting lecturer at the Royal College of Art, the Royal Drawing School and Heatherley’s School of Fine Art.

Emma Cousin
My recent work has developed the leg as a stand in for the human form a personal ‘language of legs’. A ‘Sacrificial Tripod’ is a three-legged piece of religious furniture used for offerings. The tripod is the most stable furniture construction for uneven ground, and they are frequently mentioned by Homer as prizes in athletic games. This painting is about what we strive for and asks if our drives aid or constrain us more. The cheese, a cartoonic reward, plays on the idea of the mouse trap, leaving the three limbs tied together to echo the three blind mice - the ruin within one torso is a nod to this comic tragedy. 

Emma Cousin graduated from the Ruskin School of Art, Oxford in 2007. She was recently Artist in Residence in the BA Painting Studio at Wimbledon College of Art, and lectures at Sotheby's Institute. She is also a poet, and the forthcoming Ambit Magazine, Issue 229, will present a curated feature on Emma's work. In the past year she has been in several shows in London, including the two-person ‘Mudhook’ at Tintype Gallery.

Sharon Drew
Colour, process and the physicality of paint are central to my work. I want to find that point where I am only just in control of paint, letting it behave in ways that may surprise and delight me.  As I work, the paint leaves the brush in drips and trails …a brush-mark may hold or dissolve, colours separate or blend.  I become an observer of the complex illusion of light, space and movement that evolves. Containers for paint are shown with Ziggy 1 as they are an important part of my studio equipment and process: I use diluted acrylic paint and large brushes and so a traditional palette would not be practical.

Sharon Drew completed her Fine Art MA at Central Saint Martins in 2003 and is now a mentor to degree students there. She has exhibited in Paris and Singapore, and was recently artist-in-residence, with the solo show ‘Flat-Out’, at Trinity Buoy Wharf Docklands.  She was selected for 2015 & 2016 Royal Academy Summer Exhibitions and the 2015 East London Painting Prize. She has also shown with Rebecca Hossack Gallery and at Terminal 5, Heathrow Airport.

Roxana Halls

My practice questions the ways in which gender and class norms slyly intersect today to circumscribe the repertoire of legitimate actions available to women. My self-portrait, Carvery, is an investigation into the role food plays in our personal histories. It occurred to me that I almost never saw the food I associated with my youth represented in painting, as though, in contrast to its nostalgic importance to me, it were not considered of sufficient value for examination. So I chose to paint a meal as a site of self-determination: I attempt to carve a life from a laden table. My concentrated efforts are slightly undermined by the apparent awkwardness of my hands. I wanted to imply that this process, though unheroic, is not without its challenges.

Roxana Halls has had solo exhibitions at the National Theatre, the Hay Hill Gallery, London and Beaux Arts, Bath, and shown in numerous group exhibitions. Her awards include the Villiers David Prize and the Discerning Eye's Founder's Purchase Prize, and her commissions include Alan Grieve, Chairman of the Jerwood Foundation.

Selma Parlour

My paintings are meticulously rendered through soft films of transparent oil so that imagery looks drawn or printed. The titling of my Cloud series is in reference to Hubert Damisch's book 'A Theory of /Cloud/', where /cloud/ offers an alternative spatial organisation to linear perspective. In Cloud III, I use an invented vocabulary to consider painting's in/extrinsic conventions, such as: the delineation, cropping, volume and weight of shapes in space, flatness, and trompe l'œil illusion. The postcards live on my studio wall. They serve as reminders of the influence on my practice of Duccio's truncated space and Agnes Martin's consideration of the grid and transparency. 

Selma Parlour completed her PhD in Art at Goldsmiths College, London in 2014. She has held solo exhibitions at Marcelle Joseph Projects at the House of Saint Barnabas, London (2016-17); Dio Horia, Mykonos (2015); and MOT International, London (2012). Parlour was a prizewinner at John Moores Painting Prize (2016), and has just been awarded the Sunny Dupree Family Award for a Woman Artist at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, London. Her work is featured in Thames and Hudson’s ‘100 Painters of Tomorrow’ (2014), and collections include the Saatchi Gallery, London.  

Carol Robertson

I’ve been making circle paintings since the late ‘80s. The circle is a formation that has no beginning or end, and symbolises wholeness and completion. My recent ‘pointstars’ emerged from that purest of geometric forms. Sirius is named after one of the brightest stars in the sky. I'm currently painting 9 or 18 point star formations. I love star-gazing: one of life's most exquisite mysteries. My chosen object is a 300 million year old fossil of ferns from Radstock, Somerset. Its age and beauty is something I treasure. Unlike stars, millions of light years away, I can hold it in my hand and wonder at its evolution.

Carol Robertson lives and works in London, and shows with Flowers Gallery, including a solo show earlier this year. Her work has been exhibited extensively in the UK and Europe, also in Japan and the USA. Since 2001 she has been a Returning Fellow at the Ballinglen Arts Foundation in Ireland. In 2014 she published a book with her husband, Carol Robertson & Trevor Sutton - French Paintings in response to a series of residencies in the Midi Pyrenees region.

Yukako Shibara

My painting explores the complex interplay of light and shadow, and both physical and optical colour, questioning how we perceive objects. An integral part of my work is the colour of hidden surfaces, so that reflected colours slowly reveal themselves around each object like an aura. Pink Sisters consists of two parts -- a pared-down painting and a complex layered one.  Each work deals with a different space, and they negotiate the delicate relationship and balance between tension and harmony. The same can be said of the pair of pebbles I am showing with the diptych.

Yukako Shibata (born Hokkaido, Japan, 1972) has lived and worked in London since, where she gained an MA in painting from the Royal College of Art in 2005. Her solo exhibitions include Ethereal, Gallery MoMo, Tokyo, 2014; Colour Shadow, Lightgallery, London, 2013; and Luminescence, The Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation, London, 2008; Her recent group exhibitions include the Hepworth Gallery, Wakefield, 2016; Kunstvoll Gallery, Hamburg, 2017; and Beyond at Unit 1 Gallery, London, 2017.


Visiting artist Aly Helyer (now showing at Lubomirov / Angus-Hughes)  seems a match for Emma Cousin's painting

And it may seem Roxana Halls dressed to match her baked beans! But actually she didn't know we were putting them in the cup which features in her painting

Carol Robertson, Jane Bustin and Katrina Blannin

Claudia Carr's rag has the dual purpose of modelling for landscapes...

     Barry Bliss
 Debbie Bliss with Sharon Drew

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About Me

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Southampton, Hampshire, United Kingdom
I was in my leisure time Editor at Large of Art World magazine (which ran 2007-09) and now write freelance for such as Art Monthly, Frieze, Photomonitor, Elephant and Border Crossings. I have curated 20 shows during 2013-17 with more on the way. Going back a bit my main writing background is poetry. My day job is public sector financial management.