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Thursday 23 May 2024

New Images Released Of Solo Exhibition By Artist & Sculptor Conrad Shawcross @ Glyndebourne Festival 2024

New images of a solo exhibition by British artist and sculptor Conrad Shawcross at Glyndebourne Festival 2024 have been released. The exhibition opened on the first day of the annual summer opera festival, which marks its 90th anniversary in 2024. 
Credit Conrad Shawcross

Conrad Shawcross: Expansion Fields showcases new and existing works, some of which respond to Glyndebourne"s 2024 operatic repertoire, featuring new drawings, and both indoor and outdoor sculpture. 

The centrepiece of the exhibition at Glyndebourne is nine large-scale sculptures that are displayed in the Glyndebourne gardens and are being exhibited together for the first time. 

Crafted from weathered steel, the Paradigm sculptures stand between the audience and the Lewes Downs, inviting Festival-goers to walk and picnic between them.

Concurrently exhibited in Glyndebourne's Archive Gallery are a new series of works on paper titled Harmonic Carvings (2024) that respond to the operas being performed at Glyndebourne Festival 2024. 

The works have been produced using a new technique for the artist involving an adapted harmonograph – a mechanical device that uses swinging pendulums to draw. Instead of a pen, Conrad uses a scribe to scratch away layers of paint from the surface of the paper. 

The harmonograph, originally designed to analyse the vibrations of trains travelling underneath London in the Victorian era, produced a synaesthetic effect, making sound visible through movement. 

Conrad initially saw this device at the Science Museum and was inspired to create his own version to produce this series of works; appropriate to the musical context of Glyndebourne.

Also presented, and available to view by appointment in Glyndebourne's historic Old Green Room, is a selection of bronze sculptures from the artist's Manifolds (2019) series.

Based on drawings made by the harmonograph, these sculptures continue his interest in the relationship between musical chords and colour; becoming the physical manifestation of the mathematics within a chord. 

The artist described their shape as being a "chord falling into silence", a haunting concept that draws parallels to aspects of opera, such as the interplay between voice and orchestra. 

The sculptures are presented on coloured steel sconces, with the colour corresponding to each specific chord. 

Colour is not a common feature of Shawcross's past work meaning that visitors to this exhibition will be observing a development of his artistic practice.

Conrad Shawcross says of the exhibition: 

"This show contains three bodies of work, two of which present the full spectrum of my series, resulting in the title Expansion Fields. 

"Within the garden, the full spectrum of Paradigms is presented as nine ascending works. This is the first time they have been shown together and at this scale.

"Similarly, the Old Green Room contains the full, realised spectrum of Manifolds. 

"This series of 13 specific chords within the western scale are visual depictions of these chords descending into silence forming a counterpoint to the ascendant Paradigms. 

"They have been counterbalanced with chromatic sconces; each colour is a transmogrification of the ratio into a RAL code, presenting the synaesthetic potential of music.

"Finally, the series of works on paper loosely represents the five operas, using different ratios on the pendulum driven drawing machine (harmonograph) to scribe patterns and forms into the tonal layers of paint."

Conrad Shawcross: Expansion Fields unfolds in three parts. The works displayed in the Archive Gallery and the gardens are accessible to all Festival 2024 ticket-holders. The exhibits in the Old Green Room are available to view by appointment. 

Glyndebourne Festival runs from 16 May - 25 August 2024.

by: Mike Cobley


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