To tread or not to tread? The gallery staff are no doubt endlessly amused as each visitor enters the space to be immediately confronted by Dolly Kershaw’s colourful, serpentine path that winds like a stone carpet off into the room-the dilemma and trepidation etched on each guest’s face of whether to purposefully walk along it, or to respect it as a work of art and politely sidestep it, admiring it from a safe, near remove. Kershaw definitively means for the public to directly interact with her work, the process of continual flux between construction and disassemblement its raison d’etre. This ethos extends to the work of the fellow artists in this show, exploring the tensions between manipulation and chance, the synthetic and the natural, the exertions writ onto the canvas, contradictions held in strange harmonies. Sue Arrowsmith’s fragile, haiku treescapes, like troubled, dark Japanese watercolours (echoed in her use of ground Japanese sumi ink) tumble between the abstract and the representational, shapes struggling for definition against inky backgrounds (their resemblance to film negatives is inherent in her use of 35mm colour slides as study guides from her various walks throughout London), the flow and sprawl of limb a revelation of meticulous detail and serendipity. Defects are brought to the fore in Susan Gunn’s panelled paintings, which incorporate base materials, and willingly yield to natural processes-cracks, folds, eruptions transmute into purpose. They are monochromatic conversational landscapes of fracture and imperfection, assertions of both intent and spontaneity. Philippa Lawrence’s bound bonsai trees, constricted limbs dressed in bright cotton threads, animate nature, enhancing and extending a base drama already present in the source body and shape. The pieces exist in a wave of playful asphyxiation, and operate as a kind of resurrection of sorts, as bonsai trees are effectively dead items-Lawrence’s efforts could be taken as elaborate funereal wardrobes, majesterial offerings to the beauty and stature of the natural world, a form of deification.Michelle Benoit’s gelled wall sculptures (of plexiglass and wood) are emotional palimpsest equivalents of the geologic time scales, a suggestion of the interplay, and overlay, of memory and event and sentiment, an encompass of time, directed by light and colour. Chromal isolations of anger, calm, resignation and joy pulse and flash around the anchor of wood, a panoply of a lived life. The sense of the works breathing is strong overall-and indeed, given movement throughout the gallery, Kershaw’s “live” piece may have already transformed by the time a guest leaves-or, in the act of departure, a guest may contribute personally to its alteration, becoming one with the themes of the show. Whispering Colours continues through 19 July



  1. Ooops! You missed off one of the key artists; Rosalind Davis. The beautiful 3d Mondrianesque painting with yellow acrylic and steel is Rosalind’s. She is also the curator at Collyer Bristow Gallery in WC1.


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