Curated by Dereck Harris

6 April to 4 May 2024
Exhibition Details

This group exhibition includes thirteen artists, all of whom paint or work within the idiom of painting, within a figurative mode and utilise a stage-like space or Tableau. They all construct the pictorial space of a theatre with a central stage and feature spatial plains that are parallel to the surface of the canvas. These plains echo the space in which the viewer stands and present a parallel world where the characters portrayed appear absorbed in their own drama.

The Tableau is a device used throughout the history of painting as a form of display, often bearing the look of a constructed theatrical arrangement; an artificial space, but one which evokes the idea of a reflected world, where the audience is implicated or even has a role to play.

Manet’s painting A Bar at the Folies-Berjeres is a wonderful example of all of this at play, as the male customer who is shown approaching the Bar is reflected in the mirror behind the Barmaid, who stares blankly out at the viewer. We partially assume the role of customer as we approach the painting surface and as the Courtauld website explains….

Manet has shifted the reflection to the right. The bottles on the left are similarly misaligned in the mirror. This play of reflections emphasises the disorienting atmosphere f the bustling Folies-Bergere. In A Bar at the Folie-Bergere, Manet created a complex, absorbing composition and one of the iconic paintings of modern life.

 Each of the painters in this proposal uses the convention of the Tableau as an entry point for their own thoughtful reflections on the political, the personal, the imaginary, or the philosophical mythopoeic residue of lived experience.

About the artists

EMILY ALLCHURCH was born in Jersey, Channel Islands, in 1974, she received a First Class (Hons.) degree in Fine Art from the Kent Institute of Art & Design, Canterbury in 1996, and an MA from the Royal College of Art, London in 1999.

Allchurch works with photography and digital collage to reconstruct Old Master paintings and prints from a contemporary perspective. It is essential that she uses her own photography in her work, meticulously selecting and seamlessly splicing hundreds of photographic elements, in order to construct a narrative that represents a journey she has made, compressed into a single scene. Adopting the compositional framework of the Old Master has evolved as a useful device to allow her own explorations around architecture, place, and culture to emerge, infusing the present-day with a sense of history.

Sic Transit Gloria Mundi (after Piranesi) (2016), recreates Piranesi’s imaginary view of the Appian Way in Rome, to tell a story of political and economic uncertainty in the UK today. Architectural fragments of antiquity she photographed in Rome, are intermingled with those of London’s past, present and future (a reminder that empires can collapse), in both a celebration of, and a warning about, architectural hubris in the capital today.

NOEMI CONAN, born in Warsaw, Poland in 1987. Painter. Lives and works in London.

Exploring the narrative potential of visual art through surreal, confrontational and/or humorous images of female friends, family and feline companions in forest landscapes of firs and ferns. Weaving slavic folklore with themes from communist and capitalist propaganda, horror and dreamscapes into stories based on personal experience of a young woman in off centre 90’s Eastern Europe.

OONA GRIMES is a London based artist, primarily a chaser of language through drawing, clay making & film. She studied at Norwich School of Art BA & the Slade School of Art MA, was recently a Visiting Lecturer at The Royal College of Art London, The Ruskin School of Art Oxford University & University of The Arts London. In 2018 she was awarded the Bridget Riley Fellowship at The British School at Rome & in 2022 the Bryan Robertson Award. She was elected to the RA in 2024

Oona Grimes: Etruscan puppets are drawn from Pinocchio [a book I read as a child an mis-remembered ever since] where the puppet is housed in a series of violent tableaux- using a minimal suggestion of ‘stage’ or enclosure, frames within frames. The book is almost a stop frame series of incidents each housed in its own set. A multitude of locations – interior, exterior, underwater & heavenly owning their own chapters.

Springing from research into commedia del’Arte – the fool, the clown and the puppet Pinocchio is a narrative filled with beatings, flayings, hanging and burning : overt violence wrapped in slapstick and comic strip language. Neutral characters with an ambiguity between victim & victimiser. Comic book strips & cartoons to shed light on the dark side of human behaviour. When we talk about society & political history we talk about human psychology Mythic stories & images from the past as tools with which to speak about the present moment.

GLENYS JOHNSON was born in Ulnes Walton, Lancashire, in 1952. She completed her postgraduate degree in Fine Art at the Slade School of Art in 1976 and spent time working and exhibiting in New York in the 1980s.

She now lives and works in South East London, where she held the Lewisham Borough Artist’s Residency and maintains a studio in Deptford. Her work has been exhibited in solo and group museum shows across Europe and the U.S., including at the Haus der Kunst in Munich and Artist’s Space New York. She is currently included in group exhibitions for the Art’s Council UK and the Rochdale Art Gallery.

PETER ASHTON JONES went to art school in the 1980s. Worked as a policy advisor for the government in the 1990s, namely at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

He was the curator of The Nunnery Gallery from 2000 to 2004. Arts Director of Limehouse Arts Foundation from 2004 to 2006.

Co-founder and Director of Turps Banana Magazine and Art School from 2005 to 2014.

CHRIS BUCKLOW’S work has been compared to improvised theatre. He works with a cast of characters and allows their drama to develop as the painting comes into being.

His work will feature in the forthcoming issue of Vala, the journal of the William Blake Society. Examples of his works can be found in the collections of many museums, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim and the Metropolitan Museum, New York. He was born in Manchester in 1957 and lives in Somerset.

DAN COOMBS b.1971 is an internationally exhibited painter with solo shows at The Approach gallery London, The Fine  Art Society London ,Fred Gallery London,  New Art Projects London, Cornerhouse , Manchester,  Mihai Nicodim Los Angeles , Aleph Contemporary , and “Young British Artists” and “Neurotic Realism” at Saatchi Gallery. He has shown as part Lyon Biennale, at Le Consortium Dijon , as well as Galerie Durkan Paris, Wiel Vorderwuelbecke , Berlin , City Museum Prague , Bloomberg Space London , Fold Gallery and Charlie Smith Gallery London, amongst many others . As a curator he has curated “Suspicion ” at Jerwood Gallery and five shows at the law firm of Watson Farley and Williams as CoombsContemporary.

He is currently Director of the Adavanced painting Course at The Essential School of Painting and Senior Tutor in Fine Art at The University of East London. He was mentor for the Jerwood Painting Fellowship and Visiting professor at haute Ecole d’Art et Design at the University of Geneva. He lives and works in London.

DERECK HARRIS has exhibited with solo shows of his work at the TM Lighting gallery (2023), Flowers Artists for a Day in 2004, and the Nunnery Gallery in 2002.

He has also exhibited in numerous group shows: Cubitt30 at Victoria Miro Gallery (2023), Chorus at the Arusha Gallery in Edinburgh (2022), Practices of Enquiry UAL Clockhouse Gallery, Chelsea College of Art and Design (2017), The Perfect Nude curated by Phil Allen and Dan Coombs at the Exeter Pheonix Gallery, Wimbledon Space Gallery and Charlie Smith Gallery, Hoxton (2012).

He curated a series of group shows: Tableaux: Painting as Stage at Terrace Gallery, Patchworks, London, Silent Slips at the James Freeman Gallery, London (2020) and The Dream of Putrefaction at the Metrople Galleries, Folkstone, and the Fiedgate Gallery, London (2007).

NEAL TAIT’S paintings combine elements derived from memory, imagination and direct observation. In such a way, the description of a rather unassuming house plant can operate as an entry point to an imagined location; one that proposes a resonance with the magical and the potentially totemic. Importantly, there’s an understanding that the image exists to convey a sense of something that is not really there; that this perceived presence draws on notions of history and culture, and also that the most successfully circulated experiences of the world now exist without an object.

For Tait however, the image exists as an experience of the object; one that is inextricably linked to the materials of its depiction – chalk dust, ground charcoal and bone black feature in one recent work. It’s important that such a scene might feel as if it’s built from the accumulated dirt from under one’s finger nails or similarly, the scrapings of burnt toast.

LOUISE BRISTOW was born in London and studied painting at Gloucestershire College of Arts and Technology before moving to Brighton to study printmaking at Brighton University. She has lived in Brighton ever since, helping to set up and run a group studio called Maze, and later joining Phoenix Art Space.

Since November 2020 she has been co-director of East Side Print CIC, a screenprinting studio in Brighton. She has had solo exhibitions at Laura Mars Gallery, Berlin in 2009 and 2021, Oriel Davies, Newtown Wales in 2017, Pallant House Gallery in 2013 and Permanent Gallery, Brighton in 2009. She frequently shows her work in group exhibitions, most recently Arcadia For All? Rethinking Landscape Painting Now at the Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery, Leeds and Attenborough Arts Centre, Leicester. Her work is currently on show in Plans For Living at Weald Contemporary, West Sussex alongside sculptor Coco Crampton.

MICK FINCH exhibits his work regularly and internationally.   At the University of the Arts, Central Saint Martins, London he is Professor of Visual Art Practice. Since 2014 he has been working on the Book of Knowledge project.  He has scanned some 3000 images from a set of 1950s encyclopedias of the same name.  He has worked with this archive in terms of making digital photo-collage and more recently as video montage.  He also makes the music for the videos, which plays an intrinsic role in the work.   

In April 2024 his artist book, One Thing After Another, published by Shibboleth in Milan, was launched at the Printed Matter art book fair in New York.  Book of Knowledge work has been shown at The Sid Motion Gallery, The Terrace Gallery, The Post Room Gallery and the Art Gazette Gallery.

NICKY HIRST studied Fine Art followed by Art and Architecture. In 2019 she was appointed as Election Artist for the General Election by the Speaker’s Advisory Committee on Works of Art. She is currently editor of MASS Sculpture Magazine and a mentor on the MASS Sculpture Programme, Turps Art School. Nicky describes her work as an exploration of serendipity. Sources may be places, objects or words which she then shifts, manipulates or juxtaposes. By noticing what is already there, a visual poetry is revealed in the ordinary and everyday. 

Her Elemental Works series are visually paired images, duets borrowed from magazines and books. Once removed from their original context the images become the medium, they are forms and colours to work with. The shapes of the diptych are felt rather than thought. The limitless photographic pairings create new unspoken narratives, each with its own internal logic.

STELLA WHALLEY lives and works in London, her background was postgraduate printmaking at Central St Martins and then worked professionally as an intaglio plate-maker and printer at various print studios. She has taught at undergraduate and post graduate levels at many Universities including Camberwell collage of art, Royal College of Art and developed an MA Printmaking course at the London Print studios with Buckinghamshire New University.

She has had national and international exposure of her multi-disciplinary artistic practice, delivering talks in public galleries and museums, including exhibitions at EMPIRE 11 at the 57th Venice Biennale 2017, at the Nakanojo Biennale Japan 2015, the Wilson Gallery Cheltenham 2014, the Victoria & Albert Museum London 2002, Birmingham City Art Gallery, and a book launch of ‘Tokyo Tales’ at the Whitechapel Gallery 2007. She has successfully received funding for International residencies and exhibitions in Japan and Italy.

Installation shots by Mark Woods. All works copyright the artists.