The three artists for the evening, Maria Lopez, Alex Perryman and Necole Schmitz, are situated in a sparse and cold warehouse, each with a simple desk and chair to work on with a bright light bulb hanging above their desks.
Their workstations are situated one behind the other all facing the manager’s desk at the front of the room that holds the timer, that dominates their workflow, and the radio that blares out ‘timeless classics’.
A clock above the manager’s table serves as a constant reminder of the minute’s left before their shift is over.
The artists arrive shortly before 6pm and begin to set up their materials on their tables.
Maria brings an exiting array of materials; twigs and pieces of wood, ceramic amulets, patterned paper and glitter glue.
Alex is a graphic designer and has a laptop and printer, whilst Necole works mostly with oil paints and presents an assortment of paints and tools for their application.
Necole admits to me that she is nervous about the event, explaining that she is used to working in private and as she is not much of a performer, she is unsure how she will perform under the watchful eye of the exhibition attendees.
Maria begins by gluing square and triangular pieces of word together whilst Necole paints a reclining figure onto a small canvas. Alex’s place within the construction line takes on an interesting form when it becomes apparent that his printer is not going to work meaning he is left to work with the only tools available to him; A4 plain white paper, a pen and some blue-tack.
Far from hindering the performance this only adds to the spontaneity of the proceedings and heightens the pressure felt by Alex to produce art within a short space of time.
At the end of the first half hour Alex hands some pieces of paper to Necole, sat behind him with words stating the printers error messages reflecting his frustrations in a humorous tone.
Within the 2 hours that the artists have at work, each piece grows organically as each artist adds a layer to, or draws inspiration from it.
It is interesting to watch how the artists work in isolation but also as a forced collaboration. They are not given much time to consider and develop their ideas and must work from another artist’s starting point which forces them to confront the other artist’s thought processes as well. The work that they do has strict boundaries of time and materials they have brought with them.
The pieces created take on many shapes and forms during the proceedings and the audience take delight at watching the flow of creativity move along the production line.
Each artist finishes with the piece they started on, meaning see the work through the whole cycle. They can see how the other artists have developed and read their original ideas.
Many of the pieces are unrecognisable from their starting point and much of the merit can be attributed to the process involved in their creation rather than the finished pieces themselves, something that the curators appear to favour in the exhibitions they organise.
Watching the way in which the artists worked and drew their ideas from what was placed on their desk captivated the audience. Excitement was felt by all in wondering what shape the piece was going to take next and what the finished product may be.
Ablett and Jones have created a unique concept where the attention is focused on the production of work rather than the completed piece. The performance can be seen as an exploration into forced creativity and collaboration. What makes the concept all the more interesting is the fact the space in itself was once used as a sweatshop, thus creating a juxtaposition between this illegal practice and contemporary artistic practices.
by Helen Buckley, Exhibition Co-ordinator.