16th - 31st May 2013
Kelly McCallum and Julie Impens at the Tanner & Lawson Gallery
Artists’ Show Reflects, Subverts The Chelsea Flower Show In The Year Of Its Centenary Celebrations
As London celebrates The Chelsea Flower Show in May, Tanner & Lawson is hosting a very different type of horticultural spectacle, in their gallery overlooking Columbia Road Flower Market. Plants stand throughout the space, their flowers formed from myriad insects. Watching from the walls, blooms hide secret trysts within themselves. And yet, the sense of a traditional English flower show remains, enhanced by the serving of afternoon teas, with the artists in attendance.
Kelly McCallum is known for working with taxidermy, precious metals and gems. Here this work becomes more organic, as intricate flowers are constructed from the tiny body-parts of insects. These new species shelter beneath blown-glass cloches, but there is an unsettling sense that this might be to protect the visitors who come to see them, rather than the plants themselves. Only a courting, stuffed fox seems willing to hold them, as a token of his love. Only gold-plated insects seem willing to find a home within their stems and blooms.
“This year is the one hundredth anniversary of the Chelsea Flower Show. This is the perfect time to produce ‘Hortus Conclusus’, exploring ideas of death, pollination and rebirth, offecundity and rarity, and of our relationships with plants, insects and art itself.”
Julie Impens’s intricate floral pictures bloom from many layers of laser-cut paper, adorned with pearls. Their delicacy belies a dark side, perhaps caught in the corner of one’s vision from a distance, but seen with clarity only when looking far more closely. Images of sex and death appear within the detailed patterns, their meanings simultaneously enhancing and questioning the beauty of the flowers by which they are embraced.
“Being from a Catholic family I was told that sex was a sin. Yet we live in a society based on desire. Desire, which should be natural and sane, is made perverse by both the media and religion. My work balances these conflicting aspects of desire: its simplicity and complexity, its purity and sinfulness, its availability and distance.”
Richard Swallow and John Tanner
“We are delighted to bring the focus from Chelsea to East London for the show. We are challenging the perception that garden art is all delicate watercolours and pressed flowers.”
About the title, ‘Hortus Conclusus’
'Hortus Conclusus' is a Latin term, meaning ‘enclosed garden’. It has a long history of allegorical meanings in Mediaeval and Renaissance art. The show’s title may be seen, simply, as referring to the placing of the pieces behind glass, or within the exhibition space. A wider interpretation considers the show’s enclosing of deeper themes – beauty and corruption, life and death, the nature of horticulture – within the garden’s construction.
About Kelly McCallum
Kelly McCallum earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Rhode Island School of Design in 2001. She returned in 2003 to spend a year focusing on metalsmithing, before moving to London in 2004. She earned her MA in Applied Arts from the Royal College of Art in 2006. McCallum’s work has been featured repeatedly at the Royal College of Art, and is held in private collections worldwide. She has exhibited in Canada, the USA, Germany, France, Poland, Korea and the UK. In London, her pieces have been shown at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Goldsmith’s Hall, Sotheby’s, Selfridges, Liberty and Shizaru Gallery, Mayfair. Recent exhibitions include “Whispers of Heavenly Death” at Laleh June Gallery, Basel, Switzerland.
About Julie Impens
Julie Impens is a fine artist and jeweller. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Jewellery Design from Central Saint Martins College of Arts in 2010. As an intern for Jane McAdam Freud and Kelly McCallum she gained a passion for combining aesthetic with meaning. Her work has been seen worldwide, with exhibitions and press in Asia, Europe and the UK, and, most recently, a solo show at Touchstone Gallery in Washington, DC.
About Tanner & Lawson
Tanner & Lawson is a new gallery in East London, established in 2012 by Richard Swallow and John Tanner it shows works by leading London-based artists. Situated in the heart of the famous Columbia Road Flower Market it has an international clientele. Echoing its surroundings, the gallery has created its own small courtyard garden, inspired by Gertrude Jekyll.
59 Columbia Rd, London E2 7RG