The curatorial and editorial project for systems, non-objective and reductive artists working in the UK

Website: Chestnuts Design

Sunday Salon 12 | Congruous

Anna Fairchild BA (Hons) MA DFA

29 August 2021, 1:00pm to 5:00pm, then open by appointment until 5 September.

©Copyright Patrick Morrissey and Clive Hancock  All rights reserved.

In Spring 2020 Saturation Point published a short essay by Anna Fairchild, Lido Memories. Written during the first UK Covid-19 lockdown, the essay recalls Fairchild’s visits to a local outdoor lido, the visual resonances seen in her sculptures and her feelings about the sudden restrictions imposed: a kind of rewinding, and her somewhat nostalgic reflections on the visual and sensory pleasures of visiting and photographing The Hitchin Swimming Centre near her home in North Hertfordshire.

For the current exhibition at Saturation Point, Congruous, Fairchild has created a new body of work which draws together some of these ideas, including her interest in Brutalist concrete structures, in particular the Stevenage telephone exchange in Hertfordshire where she recently foraged for wild garlic (Fig. 3-7). This work has also been inspired by Fairchild’s collection of sedimentary and igneous rocks (Fig. 8 & 9), and a foraging interest in fungi, lichen and other plants. These structures, surfaces textures and forms have coalesced in the sculptures, creating new, partially recognisable or even unrecognisable objects, which take their inspiration from cast concrete, rock forms and organic skeletal elements.

Alongside the sculpture Fairchild is exhibiting a series of photograms: Congruous Elements Kit. These photograms are made with paper photographic negatives of the one-off moulds used to cast some of the sculptural elements. They are presented as a record of the planning and construction of the pieces, but are now barely recognisable; the forms have emerged, through the process of making, as things in their own right.

In her 2010 book, Vibrant Matter, A Political Ecology of Things, Jane Bennett expounds her interest and position on New Materialism, in which the historically accepted hierarchy of things in the world is questioned, giving parity to the animate/inanimate and organic/inorganic things that we share the world with; disrupting the historical view of humans as the top of a hierarchy of things, proposing instead that everything is material stuff, which changes and/or moves through time, mostly at a pace imperceptible to human beings. In this way the hierarchy is constructed. Bennett proposes that a New Materialist view could allow a new ecology of the world around us to emerge, and in doing so create a parity of things.

She states: “Vital Materialists will…linger in those moments during which they find themselves fascinated by objects, taking them as clues to the vital materiality we share with them…potentially allowing treatment of …non-humans-animals, plants, earth, even artefacts and commodities - more carefully, more strategically, more ecologically” (P.17, 2010).

Fairchild says: “It is this lingering over inanimate objects I have always had a fascination with -  rocks, fossils, the human built environment - since a young age. I grew up in a small village where play consisted mainly of scrambling, climbing, digging and finding things, and listening to my father, who was an architect, showing me drawings and architectural models. I suppose it is inevitable that I would find Bennett’s ideas a natural conclusion of the way things in the world have always appeared to me”.

It is not too fantastical to say that rocks and the materials of the constructed environment speak their own language, if one takes the time to dwell on their quiet, polyphonic visual echoes. A rock picked up intuitively years before, or the side of a Brutalist building, can trigger inspiration in a specific context of time and place, such as during a wild garlic foraging visit to a local town.

Fairchild uses liquid Jesmonite plaster poured onto flat casting surfaces so that several layers of material, such as paint, cement powder or biro, become embedded in the wet plaster. When the plaster dries and is lifted off, it causes a kind of synchronic tearing, vertically, through layers of texture and colour, disrupting our linear notions of time and experience.

The work in this exhibition combines these kinds of surfaces in different ways, creating forms that evade a definitive naming of animate/inanimate, organic/inorganic objects and structures.

The artist is inviting us to dwell on the imaginative ambiguity of these sculptural slices through objects, material, place and time, to re-imagine the times we are living in.

Videos of Anna’s talk at Congruous:  Introduction  The Work

Twister 1, 2021 5x45x45 cm approx. Jesmonite with embedded cement powder and paint fragments.

Telephone Exchange, Stevenage
Date: 1975 Architect: Edwards, Tory and Associates

Telephone Exchange, Stevenage
Date: 1975 Architect: Edwards, Tory and Associates

Sedimentary and metamorphic rocks, breeze block fragment, UK.

Twister 2, 2021 35x45x45 cm approx. Jesmonite with embedded cement powder and paint fragments.

Hyphae Call & Response, 2021 65x75x15 cm approx, wall based. Jesmonite with embedded biro ink and paint fragments.

Pincer, 2021  200x200x25 cm approx, wall-based Jesmonite with embedded paint and biro ink fragments

Congruous Elements Kit

Congruous Elements Kit