ABOUT THE WORK
In 1914 Folkestone saw the arrival of 16,000 Belgian refugees on a single day; in all 250.000 came to Britain during WW1. It was the largest influx of refugees in British History. 8,500 refugees have drowned in the Mediterranean in the last 2 years.
The original installation consisted of four large format unframed black and white photographic prints of the sea, 1200 x 1800 mm (4’ x 6’), are arranged joined together in a line, 7200 mm (24’) in length, 150 mm off the floor so that they are below the viewers’ eye line. It’s as if the viewer is on a small boat or raft. The right hand image is in direct contact with the front window glass of the gallery, so that all four images of the water are reflected in the glass so that the sea appears to cross the street. The images are lit in the day and at night so that they are visible to anyone walking or driving up Tontine Street.
The images have been selected from thousands of photographs of the sea. In contrast to the other artists his vision of water does not offer the relief to the eye of the sky, of wind, or indeed of light. It is night and raining; it is dark, and forbidding. In the four images of the sea here, the waves are almost solid, have the appearance of both wood and skin.
Turner in his paintings of the heroic The Battle of Trafalgar or the wild Fishermen at Sea haunts the English attitude to the sea. The English bond to the sea is one of selfless discipline. This contrasts with the continental relationship personified by Gericault in The Raft of the Medusa, one of betrayal and abandonment. In both cases the focus is on the human beings at the mercy of the deep.
Andrew Holmes’s approach has more in common with Turner’s Shipwreck or Winslow Homer’s The Gulf Stream; an attitude dominated by fear. This is not the romantic view of nature as religion.
His experience as a child of being five hours in an open 20 foot fishing boat in a force 10 gale, a storm with winds of 60 miles an hour, off the coast of Wales, and later being shipwrecked in The Minch off Scotland in a similar boat, bears strongly on his view of the sea.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Born in 1947 in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, Andrew Holmes moved to London in 1966, and attended the Architectural Association.
He is best known for a series of 100 realistic pencil drawings exploring the apparently anonymous mobile infrastructure of cities. In addition however his work encompasses printmaking, photography, film, and design. The work offers not the unique quality of handicraft, but the elements of three traditions: that art is evidence, and of an ability to select significant objects, things from experience; that art is the residue of engaging the existing systems with particular mechanical techniques and processes; and that art provides the possibility of fabricating new versions of reality.
These procedures he organizes as Messages, Arrangements, and Monuments under the principles of Informalism.
The work in all its forms has been exhibited and published widely for forty years. Holmes is Professor of Architecture at Oxford Brookes University, was formerly Guest Professor at the Technische Universitaat, Berlin, and a Visiting Scholar at the Getty Research Institute. He lives and works in London.
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