Looking Through - Ann Sutton

Looking Through presents works made by Ann Sutton in the stage of her career after she stopped working as a weaver.  The grid is still very much the unifying element throughout the exhibition.

Sutton has used many materials including paint, wire and nylon mesh.  She describes them as humble, everyday materials, available to all.  Sutton uses acrylic paint not in a painterly way, but as a material for construction.

With many of the works made in black and white, the structure is brought into focus and it is the construction that invites the viewer’s interest.  Haikus (2018) are pinned directly to the wall.  Would longer pins have allowed shadows to animate the work, in the way that words echo in the memory? 

Haikus  (2015), acrylic

Haikus (2015), acrylic

The presentation of the black and white grid Paint in Space, suspended away from the wall works beautifully.  Black Energy, in contrast, is carefully stitched onto a Perspex substrate.  The presentation appears to sap vitality from the piece.

Paint in Space  (2010), acrylic paint on nylon

Paint in Space (2010), acrylic paint on nylon

Where colour is used, Sutton is bold and unyielding.  Colours are brash, any mixing and toning down appears accidental.  Moving Through (2015) was made for Collect and shown at the Saatchi Gallery in celebration of Sutton’s 80th birthday.  Four layers of similar sized cubes painted on the nylon mesh which has served Sutton well are shown here in a low-ceilinged alcove.  The layers hang in front of each other, allowing the colours to mix and change as the viewer approaches and moves away from the work.  

Moving Through (2015) acrylic paint on nylon, 4 panels

Moving Through (2015) acrylic paint on nylon, 4 panels

3D works presented in and on imposing display cases occupy the centre of the gallery.  The height of the cases allows the viewer to engage with Crawling Mass by looking through the intriguing shapes.  By the same token, the height of the cases makes it difficult to appreciate the tantalising interstices between the elements in Black City.

Exhibition view, front  Crawling Mass , back  Black City

Exhibition view, front Crawling Mass, back Black City

There is an overriding feeling of attention to detail and care in the finish which is soothing and comfortable.  The feeling of safety occasionally comes across as a deliberate avoidance of risk.  The resultant lack of excitement is perhaps detrimental to the overall feel of the exhibition.

Visiting this exhibition has been particularly timely as I have been encouraged to explore ways in which to present my work.  Curation can transform the viewer’s experience and is something I need to which I need to give greater consideration.



The Winchester Gallery,  Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton 11 July – 15 August 2018


On the Grid (catalogue essay) Gill Hedley