Construction House, the second show to be held at the new gallery at S1 Artspace, is an ambitious three-part exhibition running until April 2019. The exhibition has been programmed to coincide with the centenary of the Bauhaus, a pioneering art and design school that not only had one of the most celebrated list of artists and technicians of the early 20th century, but also established many teaching methods that are still being applied today.
The project is split into three distinct sections, each of which includes new work by current S1 Artspace studio holders alongside artworks and archival material from artists affiliated with or involved in the Bauhaus. The first of the three shows is titled Order & Limitations and includes new work by James Clarkson, Ashley Holmes and Roanna Wells, and a performance by Alison J Carr.
Despite the fact that the Bauhaus itself ceased to exist after 1933, it has remained a continuous presence within the art world, with many contemporary practices referencing or paying homage to the distinctive visual identity of a large proportion of the work produced by its teaching staff at the time. Exhibitions of this nature have a tendency to become filled with works that seem to be pastiches of the more well-known and recognisable original pieces. Order & Limitations, however, does something different. There is a level of conceptual rigour in the way that the curator, Laura Clarke, and all of the artists have approached the challenge of the project and have looked closer at the underlying and slightly hidden elements of the teaching methods and practices of artists such as Anni Albers, Paul Klee and Oscar Schlemmer.
Roanna Wells explores repetition as a method of learning and understanding a new discipline with a series of painted works, which sit perfectly alongside a work by Anni Albers that also uses methods of repeat pattern, similar to some of Albers’s more recognisable woven pieces. Ashley Holmes produced his audio work in collaboration with a community group in Broomhall, building on his interest in collective production and self-organisation. This focus on the collective and on co-production is a running thread in Bauhaus teachings and is something that remains embedded within many art and design courses across Europe. The gallery is littered with sculptural works by James Clarkson – half of which take the form of expanded packaging nets, brightly coloured and made from powder-coated steel, while the other half take the recognisable form of an IKEA bin, though Clarkson’s versions have been slip-cast in porcelain. Both works play on our experiences of familiarity and the uncanny but also look closer at their relationships with function and industrial production, which is something that students at the Bauhaus regularly explored. Alison J Carr will stage a performance towards the end of November that looks closer at the experiences of female artists studying and working at the Bauhaus, which are often lesser-known stories. Carr will explore the potential of collective female force through a new work in collaboration with Lucy Haighton.
Order & Limitations is a triumphant start to an engaging and unique take on a regularly visited subject. What is equally interesting is that the project allows the artists who are currently based at S1 Studios to test and expand their usual practice, to consider new outcomes and alternative methods of production.
The three Construction House shows:
Order & Limitations (6 October-24 November)
Leisure Time (6 December-9 February)
Radical Materials (21 February-20 April)
- Words by
- David McLeavy