materiality group exhibition - holy island

23 Sep - 1 Oct 2017

graham patterson - visual artist  

graham patterson - visual artist  

Supported by Arts Council England. In partnership with Peregrini Lindisfarne Landscape Trust & Natural England




One island, two names … names that link culture with nature.


Lindisfarne: possible (natural) derivation – lindis; a stream associated with the island and farne; a Celtic word meaning land.


Holy Island: the ‘official’ (cultural) name dating from the eleventh century when the Normans ‘re-established ecclesiastical life’, calling it Insula Sacra (Holy Island).


In this short text I will suggest that this merging of identities is appropriate for an island (and exhibition) that collapses the relationship between culture and nature; where the past so visibly lives within the present.


The works in Materiality reflect the artists’ embodied response to this remote island off the north east coast of Northumberland. They have worked with materials and processes that interact and engage with both the physical outdoor environment and the history and physical structures of the island. To explore each piece, you have to walk the island; to experience its wildness; its mudflats and sand dunes; its tidal estuaries and rocky shores and its track-ways, lined with hawthorn hedges – evidence, too, of the island’s rich artistic, religious and industrial history.


There is something about Holy Island – its wide-open spaces, weather, and light - that draws you in … and all the artists in Materiality have been drawn into, and engaged with, the life of the island in some way.


'One island, two name. Dr Mike Collier September 2017. (text relating to individual artists works below)

kinetic assemblages - driftwood combined with reflective mirror film, monofilament, pulled tight attached to riveted D-rings at either end. As the elements rotate the film, reflections are cast onto the shoreline and rocks; within Coves Haven and Sandham Bay.

IMG-20170924-WA0049 home

Documentary Film - includes interviews with the six participating artists.

holy island : shoreline debris

Helen Pailing’s Technofossil plays with ideas of 'active matter', whilst referencing the very real problem of accumulated waste that increasingly litters the island’s shoreline. It is made up of multiple lengths of knotted baler twine embedded along a ledge of rocks at Coves Haven. There is a meditative and reflective element to this work, which uses an economy of means to gently question the relationship between the natural and the manmade in our age of the Anthropocene.


Lindsay Duncanson’s nine-foot Cyanotype self-portraits (Laid) on silk can be seen billowing in the wind from bamboo poles near the Snook. Cyanotype is an old monochrome photographic printing process that gives a cyan-blue print. As Lindsay says, ‘this technique allows the landscape to capture you, rather than, as with photography, you “capturing” the landscape’. There is a sense of vulnerability about these images that reflects our uneasy relationship with both nature and the past in the twenty-first century.


Reverie, Graham Patterson’s kinetic assemblages, uses salvaged debris from the shoreline combined with reflective materials referencing the movement of sky, sea and sand. The works, which are joined together with monofilament, can be seen embedded into, and suspended from, shoreline debris in Coves Haven and Sandham Bay.


Ruth Brenner’s clay material objects (Corporeality) on the Broad Stones coast will be at the mercy of the North Sea weather throughout the period of the exhibition. Wind and rain will scour the clay just as it has eroded and consumed the landscape of Holy Island over many centuries.  


Chun Chao-Chiu’s Chinese woodcuts (Between Sky, Sea and Land) have been printed on kozo paper using a range of aquamarine inks, to create circular motifs which reference the Island’s shifting tides and skies. He has used rice glue to attach the prints to pillars and pews in St. Mary’s Church.


Alexandra Hughes is presented a live performance, Wild Affections, in the Crossman Hall on the opening day of the exhibition and again on the evening of the 30th September on the shoreline; close to St Cuthbert’s Island. She created a living collage from a formation of people adorned in material to animate and perform imaginative explorations of the relationship between objects and people.


My own work – a walk and talk ‘meander’- on 23rd September between the various sites of the exhibition on the island, will link natural, social and cultural history. Accompanied by natural historian Keith Bowey, we will, together with the artists and members of the public, explore the relationship between culture and nature on this windswept island as we walk between the artworks; through the dunes, along the coast and into the village beneath the Castle.


This project has been curated by Graham Patterson. It is significant, I think, that Graham was born and raised in Berwick – just a stone’s throw from the island. This was Graham’s ‘playground’ as a child – something that is reflected not just in his own playful work, but in the open-ended experimentation of the artworks in this exhibition. Graham is no incomer … he cares deeply about Lindisfarne, and he has brought together a group of artists who have responded to the materiality of the landscape and its sense of history and isolation in such a diverse and exciting way.


Dr Mike Collier (Professor of Visual Art, University of Sunderland). September 2017

Advertising that appeared in publications and printed as posters and flyers. A3 fold out Risographic guide / maps (500) designed by Alexandra Hughes. Printed by Foundation Press Sunderland University. Containing essay by Dr Mike Collier. Materiality information points (caravan courtesy of Lindsay Duncanson) Risograph guides / maps installed at sites throughout the Island.

Images taken on the opening day of the exhibition. The artists walk was a great opportunity ro engage with particpants who had signed up for the walk. We were fortunate to have such wonderfullu warm un-seasonal weather during the entire six hours period that we walked between the artworks.

Graham Patterson - Reverie