Underworld portrait (143x230) final

We do hope you will be able to join us for our opening night on Friday 12th May 6.30pm – 8.30pm.

Exhibition by 3 artists: Deb Catesby, Sue Cridland and Dawn Harris

We have been making work specifically for this show for the last few months, we’ve all used the same very evocative title in completely different ways, according to our different ways of thinking and working. Dawn has made drawings which look through a labyrinth of tunnels; Sue has made paintings and textiles with deep blacks and a surface laced with colours; and Deb has produced paintings which meditate on moments in Underworld myths.

We would love it if people just came along to see what we’ve been doing. It’s not really intended as a way of selling work, more as a prompt to each of us to see what we do in response to the idea and to each others’ work.

We’ve asked 2 artists to come along on the PV evening (6:30 Friday May 12th) discussion to begin at 7.00pm and talk about what we’ve done. We’d love it if you came along and joined in the discussion. Or if that’s not possible, to visit the exhibition on one of the other days.

Underworld,  Deb Catesby

As a painter, I have tried hard to resist my interest in drama and stories. They don’t fit well with a visual, philosophical and theoretically driven medium. Drama and storytelling is so rooted in continuing time that it seems to sit ill at ease with the apparent resolute, unchanging nature of a painting.

But with the theme of ‘Underworld’ the attraction of the many wonderful dramatic myths and legends about the ‘third realm’ of Hades was hard to resist. I thought I would concentrate on two stories. The first was the account of Orpheus and his pursuit and loss of his dead lover, Eurydice. The second was the awful and wonderful story of how Persephone was seized by Pluto, god of the Underworld, and then rescued by her mother, Demeter, goddess of fertility and harvest.

I decided to use skills learnt in my previous work as writer and dramatist and wrote some poems and a short play to start thinking about these stories in a contemporary setting – in this case a glossy Birmingham bar, called, of course, Hades. The character of the barmaid was the mother figure, and the lost girl was alternately both Eurydice and Persephone.

I was to paint six canvases of the same size and in the same landscape orientation to tell the story.

Of course it didn’t quite work like that.

The paintings don’t tell the story. Only a storytelling medium can do that. What I hope the paintings can do is to express something about moments within the myths and the ideas that underpin them as translated into paint. Or perhaps they might be called meditations. I don’t know.

I am grateful to two translations of Ovid’s Metamorphoses (by Mary M. Innes and Ted Hughes) and to Denise Riley’s moving volume of poems ‘Say something back’. I have chosen words or lines from Riley’s poems as titles for each of the paintings.

Dawn Harris

Underworld – what actually does that mean? It seems to suggest another world situated down there somewhere, down below. All sorts of secrets kept in an unfamiliar place. Unfamiliar to me, at least.
Unexpectedly, this world of unknowns became visible to me through a series of stories, messages and visual images. I received a glimpse of an Underworld. Not a real-life, personal underworld but an Underworld of stories – and in the world of stories I can be as ambiguous as I want to be.
I sensed the need to establish a perspective and a frame to condense my imagination into a size that felt more manageable. So I decided that I would make a frame using a sculpture I once made. I climbed in and looked at the view the sculpture offered through its labyrinth of tunnels.
No conclusions were drawn as to the actual whereabouts of the Underworld – but for the purposes of this exhibition my version can be found at the end of the tunnel!

My thanks to Molly Sheridan for the glimpse.

Image may contain: one or more people

underworld:  Sue Cridland

The word ‘underworld’ becomes the dark beneath the earth where there’s a dark black space, a metaphor for things unknown. The dark black earth somehow manifests flashes of colour, with those colours emerging as if from beneath.

Or perhaps I’m looking from above?

As in a peat bog the surface is laced with colours. The blackest and darkest turf belongs to the oldest time but burns longest and with the brightest flame. To me this suggests not only the unknown but something mysterious where deep down everything is dark and black.

The concept is dark, a veil of black hiding the unexpected or the unknown within or below the earth. There is no visible light where the dark dictates.

But does the dark dictate?

I use these internal abstractions to translate my understandings of a word into the language of colour, shape and form. And in this way, the word ‘underworld’ becomes visually concrete as an abstract artwork using paint and textile.

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