Chichester exhibition explores the restorative power of art in dark times

Powerfully-sensitive works of art offer a thought-provoking New Year exhibition at Chichester's Oxmarket Gallery.

Wednesday, 16th January 2019, 7:16 am

Creative Redemption runs from January 22-February 10 in the venue’s John Rank Gallery, bringing together five talented artists all of whom, in their own way, have benefitted from the restorative powers of their personal creative process.

They now come together to present Creative Redemption. Inviting viewers to experience their journeys and response through the use of mixed media, textiles, painting and found objects, the exhibition aims to offer empathy, encouragement and hope.

Helen Frost, Christine Habib, Nicola Hancock, Helio Teles and Julie Turner have revealed the “wounded condition through their individual response”, presenting a highly-sensitive and powerful collection of works. The exhibition is curated by Nicola Hancock (Chichester Art Trail) and Sofia Williams (Oxmarket Gallery manager).

Sofia explains: “As someone who suffers from anxiety, Helen Frost takes great comfort in daily walks amongst nature, often in quiet and secluded places along the coast. It is in these surroundings she can practise her version of mindfulness, taking time to absorb her surroundings. Focusing her attention in this way stops her mind from the cycle of negative thoughts. These walks started as an attempt to help cure herself. They have now become walks attempting to help cure our coastline. The beauty and serenity of our local area is often spoiled by rubbish and debris and its sheer volume is something that overwhelms Helen. She believes her small contribution to righting the many wrongs is to collect at least one bag of litter each day and recycle the items in which she sees beauty, to create her art.

“Christine’s present work has been created whilst convalescing over the last three months and is based on the many experiments she made working with different materials during her recent studies. She is also referencing a response to early childhood memories of days with many members of her family who worked in the textile industry. Cloth and fibre were part of everyday life and feature strongly in her own work.

“Trained as a scientist Nicola turned initially to photography then over three decades to painting, sculpture, installations, textile work and in some cases combinations of all of these elements! Her work examines the structures of life and feeling; physical, emotional and psychological.

“Her science taught her to look beyond the immediate reality of things to understand the deeper connections and organisations of our world. Her art practice gave feeling and shape to her life experiences, including the joys and traumas of childhood, and more recently the impact of cancer – a journey which this exhibition charts. In the depths of her difficulties, she seized the lifeline of creativity and built a meaningful path through fear and the brutal impact of the surgery that saved her life. Beautiful pieces of art bearing witness to her labours now exist in the world as offerings of empathy and courage to anyone who has struggled, or is struggling, as she has done.

“Brazilian-born artist Hélio Teles supported the land reform movement. Much of his work portrays the chronic and systemic nature of poverty in Brazil. Here he has transformed his memories of the fragile lives of those he worked with into an artistic interpretation of the world they inhabited. The walls, windows and doors of their simple houses, have become for him an expression of their struggle, and of their hope. In his more recent work he reflects upon the human desire for peace and security amidst the unstable and troubling conflict of recent years. The fact that these events affect poorer communities disproportionately demonstrates once again their continuing vulnerability to change and uncertainty. His work is a metaphor for poverty and division.

“Julie Turner trained as a primary school teacher and has a degree in psychology, with a particular interest in child development. Further studies led to working as an art therapist and gaining a degree in Fine Art. Julie now works full time as a mixed media textile artist with a studio in the Euroart complex in Tottenham North London. Julie’s work reflects her preoccupation with the significance of early childhood experiences, in particular those of maternal deprivation and loss. She works with rust and natural dyes to convey meaning. Her work is often in the form of faceless dolls and unwearable dresses and is intended to evoke an emotional response in the viewer.”

The exhibition is accompanied with a Meet The Artists event on Saturday, February 2, 2-4pm, light refreshments served.