At the UWE Art-Design-Media degree and postgrad show, a mix of artistic practices on display makes for an inspiring trip out. There’s an abundance to see, too much if you want to watch all the films which pop up across all disciplines. However, I did sit down to 24 minutes of Jane Lee’s xxiv film.
Jane has been artist-in-residence at St Michael and All Angels, Bedminster, since 2009. In a purpose-built studio at the west end of the church, light filters through a clear-glass unadorned Victorian window which reaches from floor to ceiling in the space. It’s perhaps not surprising that the window has become the frame for all of Jane’s work during her residency, as it is an unavoidably dominant feature of a working area which one usually finds elsewhere to be white-walled and sterile – rather like most of the UWE displays. As such, the window is an interesting site of intersecting ideas, all of which cross like the leading into different aspects of Jane’s MA by Project.
On the one hand, the window can’t help but be associated with a rather stale, uninspiring view of ‘church’ – a space from within which the regulations of religion mount up like a grid of so much doctrine and ritual, forming a boundary and measuring line to be layered over the outside world. Wall-mounted prints in Jane’s space form such a grid, either directly re-presenting the individual panes of glass, or with selected stills from the film – the former poetically revealing the crusting layers of grime and rain-streaks.
On the other hand, the window is only ever trying to let light in, becoming a screen for mediation and transition where the weather and the outside start to dematerialise the setting. It’s a dematerialisation that seems best suggested in the film, as the sequence of photographs taken at 5-minute intervals throughout the day is accompanied by a soundtrack of background noises (a phone, a car starting, a siren), birdsong, and the occasional line of sung music. Unlike the visual collage of images in physical and lateral comparison, the film creates a sense of dimensions acting on, in and through the window. It becomes a site of extraordinary sensitivity, where the inside and the outside overlap in traces of song and air, and in the myriad paths of humans coming-and-going.
This seems to me to be beautifully evocative of the ever-growing ever-moving life of a local community hub, while keeping that which is static in sight. The two aspects of the window, its structural visibility and its lattice of invisibility are held together, and in doing so become something of a reflection on faith which is both inherited and lived.
Elsewhere in the show (note to self): the origami-like photographic wall-mounted sculptures; the pinned and spreading use of paper collage over boards, floors and chairs; laser-cut additions of felt, laminate and metallic layers to prints. The MA students in Multidisciplinary Printmaking won the show for me. Disappointed I couldn’t find Fashion and Textiles, which was labelled separately to Fashion, but was nowhere to be seen…
Header image: Stills from xxiv, 2012, by Jane Lee