19 June 2010


19 June - 11 July 2010
Calke Abbey, Ticknall, Derbyshire DE73 7LE

Anna Barham, Karla Black, Marcel Broodthaers, Lucy Clout, Clem Crosby, 
Jimmie Durham, Mark Fairnington, Doug Fishbone, Martino Gamper, Roger Hiorns,  
John Plowman, Daniel Silver, Harald Smykla, Jack Strange

Curated by Sotiris Kyriacou and John Plowman

Profusion was an exhibition inspired by the unique setting of Calke Abbey, a National Trust property in Derbyshire. Hidden away in a hollow within an ancient deer park, Calke’s interiors and outbuildings are filled with the accumulation of years of collecting and hoarding by its eccentric and reclusive owners. Containing a diverse selection of household objects, artefacts, precious heirlooms and collections of natural history, Calke is now preserved in a state of atmospheric decline, as it was found when the Trust took it over in 1985. Profusion presented commissioned and existing works by acclaimed international artists, exploring themes and ideas pivotal to the exhibition's context.

Calke’s rambling contents declare their fragility and materiality, emphasising a heightened sense of physicality and entropy. The house is purposely presented in a way that disregards established hierarchies, taxonomies and methods of display, celebrating instead the glorious disarray of a rich diversity of objects and artefacts and their testimony to the passage of time. Calke emphasises multiple viewpoints and possibilities within a framework of interconnectedness. It embraces the tentativeness of imposed categories, highlighting their relativity and debunking presumptions regarding the containment and representation of knowledge.

Marcel Broodthaers
Ombres Chinoises, 1973–4  (Courtesy Galerie Marie-Puck Broodthaers, Brussels)

Making up this continuous 35 mm slide projection were eighty slides of material derived from a variety of sources including 19th century schoolbooks, comic strips and scientific texts. The setting parodies the lecture format but any apparent connections between the assortment of images are purely in the eye of the beholder.

Marcel Broodthaers, born 1924, was a poet, photographer, filmmaker associated with the Belgian Surrealists. In 1963 he became an artist, often using everyday objects and text. He died in Cologne in 1976.

Karla Black
Don’t Attach Delay, 2009 (Courtesy the artist and Mary Mary, Glasgow)

Using everyday, perishable materials; Black’s sculpture was fragile and vulnerable, yet it demanded its own space and attention amongst the house’s busy interiors. Remaining suggestive yet undefined, displaying a reticence and a refusal to be labelled or categorised. This ambivalence was both countered and reinforced by its undeniable materiality, which manages to be both tangible and evocative.

Karla Black lives and works in Glasgow. Her sculptures often use familiar domestic materials such as Vaseline and flour. Both her materials and her method evoke ‘feminine occupations’ such as baking and nursing. Karla Black has been selected to represent Scotland at the 2011 Venice Biennale.

Lucy Clout
Untitled (eyebrows), 2010  (Courtesy the artist and Davide Bracaloni, Italy)

Suspended at the artist’s eye level this non-descript plank was a device that drew attention not only to itself but also to what lay beyond. It became an object that highlighted the necessity for us to activate our understanding of the space around it.

Lucy Clout lives and works in London. Recent exhibitions include: The Fair Show, Limoncello; Now You See It, CGP; Children of the Soil, South London Cultural Centre; and The little shop on Hoxton Street, Limoncello, London.

Clem Crosby
6 Paintings, 2010  (Courtesy the artist and George Lawson Gallery, San Francisco)

This suite of paintings in oil on Formica, reverberated with the exuberance of their gestural marks. ‘The Formica is partly revealed as an important element of the composition and acts as a counterpoint to the organic hand-made gesture. The Formica surface allows me the option to reconsider, I am able to repeatedly wipe and erase the paint – a gradual build up of ideas applied and re-worked in real time.’

Clem Crosby lives and works in London. Recent exhibitions include: Presque Rien 2, Laure Genillard Gallery; BlitzkreigBop! and Walls Have Ears, Man&Eve; and the Tate Britain Drawing Symposium/Exhibition.

Jimmie Durham
Smashing, 2004  (Courtesy the artist and Galerie Michel Rein, Paris)

This video depicted the artist as an academic wielding a rock as he sets about to gleefully pulverise each of his students’ artworks to smithereens, resulting in a pile of rubble that insisted as a reminder of the fate of all things.

Jimmie Durham is an American-born sculptor, essayist and poet, currently living in Europe. He has exhibited extensively internationally including, Palais des Beaux Arts, Brussels; ICA London; Documenta, Kassel, Kunstverein, Munich; Venice Biennale.

Mark Fairnington
Griffon Vulture Surrounded by Moths, 2010 (Courtesy the artist, Fred, London and Galerie Peter Zimmermann, Mannheim)

The subjects of Mark Fairnington’s paintings and drawings are derived from second-hand sources such as illustrations or museum displays, their provenance reminding us that their status and meaning is as much derived from culture as from nature. Presented flat on the surface of the canvas, like pinned specimens, the various moths appear to float in the ambiguous space implied by the rest of the image.

Mark Fairnington lives and works in London and has shown extensively in museums and private galleries in the United States and Europe. Including Fabulous Beasts, Natural History Museum, London; Bloedmooi, Historic Museum Rotterdam.

Martino Gamper
A Public’s Bench, 2010 (Courtesy the artist)

Using a mobile sawmill, Martino Gamper, over a period of 3 days, transformed discarded timber collected from the Calke Abbey estate into a range of outdoor seating for visitors. The speed with which he worked within the grounds of Calke Abbey to create the social seating contrasted with the slow accumulation and decline of the contents of the house.

Martino Gamper is an Italian-born artist/designer based in London. Recent projects includes 100 Chairs in 100 Days the project involved spending 100 days reconfiguring the design of 100 discarded chairs collected from the streets of London.

Roger Hiorns
Untitled, 2010 (Courtesy the artist and Corvi-Mora, London)

Roger Hiorns uses unusual materials to effect surprising transformations on objects and the spaces they inhabit. His intention to scatter powdered anti-depressant in the Smithy triggered different avenues of association between the setting and his intervention. The progress from the forge towards the productive drug reminds us of the Marxist lament for the passing of an idealized era of artisan labour when everyone was ostensibly happier to be in control of the means of production; this belief is endorsed by the costume drama setting of the pre industrial forge, contradicted by the presence of the cutting edge material, the drug as yet more dust.

Roger Hiorns lives and works in London. He was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2009 for Seizure, in which he transformed a derelict ex-council flat in South London, filling it with liquid copper sulphate, which after a period of time encrusted every surface of the space with blue crystals.

John Plowman tpdgbttm, 2010 (Courtesy the artist)

For over 20 years John Plowman has been collecting snippets of dialogue, heard on the radio, that strike him as pertinent or worth holding on to for further contemplation. Some of these accumulated fragments now literally became a forest of signs, each flaunting different typefaces and vying for our attention.

John Plowman lives and works in Lincolnshire, recent exhibitions include: The Reading Room, Handel Street Projects, London; Catching the Word, Black and White Gallery, New York; and Field of activity: a continuation, Angel Row Gallery, Nottingham.

Daniel Silver
Studies for Adam and Eve, 2009 (Courtesy the artist; IBID, London)

Although on first appearance crude and makeshift, Studies for Adam and Eve beguiled us with its rich array of materials. The shelf-like supports accentuated the display of fragments to infer a whole, encouraging us to conjure up a range possible connections and meanings.

Daniel Silver lives and works in London. A sculptor who has worked with resin, glass, wood, plastic and, more commonly, stone. He is currently exhibiting in Newspeak: British Art Now at The Saatchi Gallery, London.

Harald Smykla
Nothing Changes (Everything Changes): A Dental and Manual Portrait Collection, 2010 (Courtesy the artist and England & Co. London)

Depicting individuals by sculpting their likenesses into apples through biting and then preserving the ‘dental sculptures’ in their desiccated form, Harald Smylka’s portraits exemplified a desire to empathise and engage with people and invest the ephemeral with a more lasting significance. At once poignant absurd, the sculptures commemorated the act of interaction between artist and audience as well as the uniqueness of each sitter.

Harald Smykla is a German-born artist based in London since 1988. He has exhibited and performed throughout Britain and Europe. Recently Movie Protocol: Metropolis was performed at England & Co as part of the 2009 City X exhibition.

Jack Strange
Emily, Callum, John, Grace, Elizabeth, Paul, 2009 (Courtesy the artist and Limoncello, London)

The six Mac Book computers sat on plinths, as if imitating the average height of the six real people whose lives each computer scrolls through before us. These once private choices and preferences produced a digital portrait of each individual and took on a collective and more public identity.

Jack Strange lives and works in London. His recent London exhibition In the Pines saw Strange smearing his blood on the windows and chewing up comic books and throwing them at the ceiling.