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Sunday, 26 February 2012

Pier Arts exhibition

I was over on the Orkney Mainland on Thursday so took the opportunity to look at a couple of new exhibitions by artist Rik Hammond. Rik came to Orkney via Hastings, Falmouth, and Hartlepool - he now lives in St Margaret's Hope in South Ronaldsay, one of the linked South Isles.  Rik works in a wide range of media. His own exhibition at the Orkney Museum is of drawings he created between 2010 and 2012.  As you can see from the photo below, Rik is a contemporary artist, working here largely in "abstract". These are drawings using ink, graphite and pencil.  I read one of the comments in the Visitors Book placed on a desk in the exhibition room. "Not for me" was the last comment. Well no it's not for everyone. Rik's work isn't the traditional "representative art". I, however, like abstracts - I can respond to the shape, colour, form, texture. It speaks to me in a way I can't formalise in words.

Rik also had a genius idea of video recording himself creating a series of abstract pictures. The film was speeded up, and just showed the artist's hand, with brush and ink. It was fascinating watching the process (yes, dear reader, even in abstract art there is a process!!).  The film ran for 10 minutes and I watched it,  twice!  Were it not for a lunch appointment I may have watched it again.

Then after lunch I travelled back to Stromness and went to Rik's other exhibition "Being and Remembering" at the Pier Arts Centre. Rik has a short residency in conjunction with the Pier Arts Centre and Orkney Research Centre for Archaeology where he has been able to explore visually some of the sites that make up "Neolithic Orkney" including the ongoing dig at the Ness of Brodgar, as well as the Ring of Brodgar. The residency has a web-page "Symbols in a Landscape" where you can see some of the process. As described in the exhibition leaflet, he used his "direct and immediate method of drawing and mark making, as well as his research-led approach". His work ranged from "the traditional landscape to the symbolic, through to the quirky and conceptual."  The picture at the top of this post is of a series of drawings that fit the description of "traditional landscape to symbolic".  I like that the picture is on a corner wall - it makes the landscapes feel more 3 dimensional.

And here below is one of my favourites that most certainly fits into the "quirky and conceptual" bracket!  The "sand-castles" are made out of spoil from the dig at the Ness of Brodgar. Taken at this angle it looks like the castles outside the gallery are either arriving through the hole in the wall, wanting to join with the others, or they are living true to their form of "sand castles" and are escaping and heading back to the beach!

And while you may be feeling like the person who wrote "not for me", bear in mind that during excavations at the Ness of Brodgar, archaeologists uncovered stones that had been painted. Very primitively with blocks of colour, but painted nonetheless.  Maybe neolithic peoples looked at that and thought "Not for me". However we respond to art, we are linked through thousands of years to the Neolithic people in Orkney who daubed some stone with colour. I like that!

Note: And there is a review of this and another exhibition at the Pier Arts here. Gives a bit more info about Rik's exhibition too.


  1. I'm glad you had such an enjoyable day out, Sian, though I have to confess I'm probably nearer the "Not for me" end of the spectrum where abstract art is concerned. :-)

  2. Sounds fabulous. My kind of art! No time now, but I'll come back to look at the links.

  3. Louise from Seattle26 February 2012 at 16:04

    Especially love those sand castles on the move! I like to think they're heading back to the beach. But, were those neon racked jackets part of the plan? I'm guessing not.

  4. Perpetua - I know it's not for everyone. But I like the way you can search for meaning in an array of abstracts, or just enjoy the "shapes"!

    MaryZ - oh yes you would love this! I still have your lovely abstract upon my kitchen wall.

    Louise - oh yes the Hi Vis vests (neon racked jackets) are very much part of the exhibition. This is an extract from a review of the exhibtion "The jackets say daft things which are also deep. In-jokes for archaeologists (who have their own vocabulary, like all trades) – ‘What would Colin Renfrew do?’ or ‘Keep Calm and Dig a Test Pit’ hang next to ‘Intangible Heritage Warden’, ‘Treasure Officer’ and ‘I don’t know what I’m looking for until I find it.’ Ah, the power of the name emblazoned on your back. I love this subtle subversion of the whole business of Heritage Industry – uniforms, titles, structures which confer meaning in the midst of mystery." -

    There was so much to immerse myself in I didn't have time or space to comment on everything (but then I'm not a professional critic ;-) )