I was delighted to have the opportunity to speak to Delphian Gallery, an artist run contemporary gallery, about two new exhibitions on display at the Shoreditch venue. The two exhibitions of interest consisted of: Florence Hutchings’ ‘Seating Arrangement’ Exhibition (running from the 6th-19th of September), and the gallery’s inaugural ‘Open Call’ Group Exhibition which showcases the work of 40 unique artists. Below is the transcript of the interview:
- The winner of Delphian Gallery’s 2018 Open Call competition, Florence Hutchings will exhibit her work in Seating Arrangement this September. What does the competition strive to discover each year?
As a gallery in general, a big part of what we aim to do is discover the newest, most exciting artists, right before their careers takes off. Running an open-call exhibition is a great way to discover these, and we tried to remove every barrier which may stop a young artist from submitting; we made it free to enter, and we made it a print-only show so that all people had to do was upload a high-quality jpeg to creativehub and our friends at theprintspace would print and mount them. This made it incredibly easy and risk-free to enter, so because of this we got over 8000 submissions, from countries all over the world, and were able to show some artists who’d never exhibited in London before – in some cases, who’d never exhibited anywhere before.
- With over 8000 submissions I imagine the artwork submitted was incredibly diverse and different. What stood out about Hutchings’?
We actually already knew and loved her work before, having discovered her through our other artwork-sharing platform @Daily_Contemporary_Art, and so we’re absolutely thrilled that she submitted work. We had six judges reviewing the submissions and she got a unanimous yes from every judge.
- When I received the exhibition’s press release, I initially mistook the title Seating Arrangement and expected to find a literal seating plan. Instead, I encountered my first glimpse of Hutchings’ striking work. How is the show’s playfully mundane title figurative of Hutchings’ work?
What makes Florence’s work so captivating is that she is somehow able to imbue mundane, everyday objects with such incredible character. The things she paints are intrinsically dull and ignored objects, and by painting them in the way she does, she makes us look at these neglected objects in a different light.
- With pieces such as ‘What’s Inside My Fridge’ and ‘Two Flowers on a Table’, Hutchings renders the domestic space with life and intrigue. What do you think it is about the everyday that fascinates us so much?
I suppose it’s that we see these things every day, so we can’t help but have them seared into our mind so often that we ultimately forget them. We never truly study something like a chair in our house, and we take their existence for granted. In that way they aren’t really fascinating at all until she paints them. Paintings of chairs force us to properly look at these things in ways we would never usually do. There’s also a beautiful unpretentiousness inherent in a painting of a chair or a fridge that is quite refreshing.
- Hutchings also paints with vivid colour. Why do you think the clash, or union, of strong colours and bold paint strokes works so well with everyday objects?
It’s because it is so alien. Rarely are our everyday household items so vibrantly colourful, and so this odd juxtaposition of vibrancy and dullness is quite arresting.
- Even the space between objects, the negative space, is depicted in her work. How does her art transform and see what someone else might not initially notice?
She paints the perspective skewed in unnatural ways, and this serves to heighten the sense of intrigue present in the works. She tends to draw the same thing again and again and again, from many different angles, and then combine these into one big painting. It’s an almost Cubist approach in a way, but much less disordered. Giving a fresh perspective on a much seen object is always quite an impressive feat.
- She also names Matisse, the Cobra Group, and Pierre Bonnard as inspirations, how do you see their work influence her work?
I think the CoBrA influence is quite an interesting one, because I see a lot of young artists these days painting in what is clearly a CoBrA-inspired way – whether or not they know it themselves, but many of them do it in quite a lazy and uninformed way. What is nice about Florence is that she has a deep understanding of art history, as well as colour and form, and this translates into her work. There is a playfulness in her paintings that is redolent of Matisse, which is loose and yet perfectly refined, and I think this is a large part of why her work is so appealing.
- Hutchings’ exceptional success shows what young artists are able to achieve. What do you think is so important about providing emerging artists a platform?
I think it’s important in many ways; as an artist-run gallery, we have been given leg-ups and chances from people in the past, so it is nice to be able to do the same for others. Gentrification and the skyrocketing of rents and business rates are forcing a lot of the smaller galleries (that would usually champion emerging art) to either close down or change their business model – which in turn means the opportunities for younger artists are dwindling. The internet and social media are doing a lot to redress this balance of course, but there’s nothing that can compare to seeing a physical artwork in the flesh.