Local artists shine at town hall show

AA2A - An Exhibition of Work by Tessa Newcomb, Harriet Todd, Cherie- Marie Veiderveld and Linda Theophilus is at The Town Hall Galleries, Ipswich until today.

AA2A - An Exhibition of Work by Tessa Newcomb, Harriet Todd, Cherie- Marie Veiderveld and Linda Theophilus is at The Town Hall Galleries, Ipswich until today.

Four female artists who have participated in the Artists Access to Art Colleges Project 2006/07 at Suffolk College are exhibiting their work at the Town Hall Galleries. The idea of the scheme is to foster a closer relationship between working artists, students and staff that is beneficial to all.

Tessa Newcomb has used the scheme as a sort of 'sabbatical' year. The result is a series of sketches, etchings, and paintings entitled 'from one spot'.

These differ from Newcomb's usual rural works; are more economic and express life in Ipswich's urban environment. In Newcomb's eight small acrylic on board paintings we see individuals inhabit the same street corner. Women chat, a man gets caught in a shower, the sun falls, the skies open.

Newcomb's style is less representational than usual, but retains its whimsical charm; figures with little facial detail are characterfully portrayed through form and movement. There's a sense of joy and community in these paintings, and it's interesting to see them in pencil form too.

Her etchings are very loose, relying mainly on pure outline. In one work we see two women gossiping, in another a man walks his dog. These are subtle, economic images but they convey much about other people's lives, are often humorous, and quite nostalgic in style.

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Linda Theophilus' installations, constructed from old furniture, also provide evidence of other's lives. Working on the premise that furniture can act as a metaphor for the individual, she believes it has a life of its own.

A wardrobe acts as a peepshow, a desk becomes a pinhole camera, and a cupboard contains a series of mirrors. Her ideas are fascinating, and the installations quite haunting in their eloquent sadness, however when you actually look through the pinhole camera and peephole it's very difficult to see anything other than a blur, which is a touch disappointing.

Helen Todd's printed works and jewellery, inspired by the redevelopment of Ipswich's Dock's and the Town's changing skyline, also celebrate history. In Suspended Skyline: Pauls, and Suspended Skyline: Burtons 2, two silver gelatin prints, we see both buildings under deconstruction. They're touching images, sentimental almost. But if Todd's work conveys a sense of sadness, it's also optimistic. In Fragmented Skyline 2, inkjet transfer on canvas, an embroidered outline of a new construction hangs in the sky, floating above a dilapidated Burton's. Todd uses a range of new media to express her ideas.

Cherie-Marie Veiderveld's The Psychic Exchange 2007, DVD, is also innovative, and unusually casts her in the role of medium to explore psychic phenomena. The DVD shows a series of brightly coloured flashing cards; some with skulls, ladybirds, rainbows, hooded figures, and a variety of symbols; both frightening and happy. These are interspersed with shots of a very blurred flickery hooded figure, head down, sitting over a table in what looks like a Turkish bazaar. Music and dialogue add to the bizarre atmosphere of the piece, as words are spoken about the meaning of life, and a hypnotic spiral pulls you into its tunnel. The result is a sort of filmatic fantasy, both cartoonish and surreal. Unusual.

An intelligent show that plays about with some interesting ideas.

Sonia Carvill

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