I went to the Fermoy Gallery in King’s Lynn to see Alison Dunhill’s exhibition ‘Plaster, Parquet and Pillars’ with great anticipation. My first impression was, “I love it!”
In this beautiful space with natural light coming in from above, the predominantly small scale work was excellently curated. Each piece is an island of discovery. An element of play is present.
Microcosms under glass. Scrolls concealing stories. Clouds floating above carrying their secrets. Intricate objects and collages.
It is in the surrealist ideas of chance and found objects that Alison finds her inspiration.
Alison says “I owe a lot to Kandinsky and his ideas of dynamic and static form and to the poetry of objects in Joseph Cornell’s Boxes. I am enjoying the discipline and the disordering of geometry in abstraction.”
She is led by the materials she works with. Found objects and re-cycled materials are part of her repertoire but cut paper, painterly elements or even canvas wedges can be found in her constructions. Sometimes these elements settle onto a bed of setting plaster. The textures, shapes and functions come together but it isn’t all chance. Alison makes the final aesthetic decisions in the work.
The studio space Alison had while she was artist in residence at Largo das Artes International Art Residency Programme in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2015 further inspired the discoveries she was making in her collages. Alison began collecting twisted and crushed metal debris from the streets of Rio.
The roof rafters of the space gave Alison a means of hanging work. A new opportunity for creativity presented itself. The piece Rio Road uses this locally found debris. Often the same or similar object is sewn to each side of the piece creating a soft shadow or reflection. There is no front or back. Everything is in balance.
Not only does Alison play with objects, she also plays with words. The titles of Alison’s work are chosen in such a way as to allow the viewer to wonder about the piece without conveying a particular meaning. The titles are given after the work is completed. Perhaps this is Alison, the poet, coming through.
This poetic aspect is further demonstrated in her work Three Swans which is a visual interpretation of her poem of the same name.
There was so much to see and experience in this exhibition, all quite diverse and pleasurable. It seems to me though, that a golden thread of exploration passes through Alison’s work and that Alison is dedicated to that exploration.
Artwork © Alison Dunhill and Esther Boehm