Helena Hutchinson Swatton, ‘All the places I have ever lived’ (4/36) 2015

James Hutchinson, ‘Square Cage’ (mov) 2020

Oscar Hutchinson, ‘Isolate’ 2020

Exhibition catalogue can be downloaded here

We are not the Swiss Family Robinson. We are isolated together but not on a gorgeous island somewhere in the East Indies. We have been thrown around on the Covid-19 sea, abandoned by our ‘crew’ leaving us essential to fend for ourselves and to navigate the stormy sea of prejudice, propaganda, information and misinformation. We are lost to the civilised world, and sometimes we argue.

Helena Hutchinson Swatton left the building, just for a moment, a break in her timeline… She has now returned with a surname that has increased in size but not in status, but it is still subject to change… She states; It is possible to spend a lifetime ‘wallpapering over the cracks’, only to realise that the cracks reappear, dependably, with renewed vigour, determined to show their effect. Sometimes, it is better, like ‘Kintsugi’, to embrace the breakage, not as a thing of disfigurement but as a thing of beauty and character in its own right. It may seem that everything is broken, but the pieces mercurially reassemble into their own essence, with the ‘faults’ highlighted with gold, and are embraced as intrinsic to the ever fragile structure, in a celebratory way.

The artist has a complicated interaction with life. As an artist you have the opportunity to move through the enveloping mire, seeing it as an impenetrable mass, or you can wade through it, it’s weight strengthening your musculature…

James Hutchinson moves through the virtual space, imposing formality. It is a perfect expression of the state of limbo that we find ourselves in currently, under lockdown. We are enclosed in a vacuum, slightly suffocating, but we are still creative and expressive beings, still breathing. This work is distilled from a concentrated mass, which has been allowed to develop and refine visually through an enforced period of reflection.

It has transcended it’s original handmade clay form to the ethereality of digital medium, allowing it a weightlessness and flexibility. The formal structure contrasts the painterly surface. Spinning into eternity, it is regular but irregular and appears and disappears at the flick of a switch. Cages can protect, cages can incarcerate, Lockdown, Lockup, ‘protect and survive’ …to misquote a phrase.

Oscar Hutchinson States; During Lockdown, I began thinking about words, particularly the word ‘Isolate’ which has to be said has been bandied about far more than usual. The message was banged out as a mantra to the public in government press conferences by someone or other (especially when the Prime Minister was gravely ill in hospital) alongside stay safe, save the NHS, etc etc. And then it started; The breakdown in message. The breakdown of lockdown. People encroaching on your space, when inside you were desperately screaming “Stay the fuck away from me!!!”

In a weird case of Art imitating life, it all seems to be falling apart; the message has become confused and deteriorated beyond recognition. So, here we are now with my ‘isolate’ in complete deterioration, just like Boris’s message. It has been beautifully weathered in it’s fight against the elements, and we are in some state of lockdown but no-one really understands what that is any more. It has taken on a life of its own and what would be better than ‘Isolate’ to be abandoned behind an impenetrable shop window, and a locked door?