Artist Profile - Alastair Gordon
23 September 2013
oil on marine ply
To mark the end of his first year in residence at Departure Arts Centre, artist Alastair John Gordon will be presenting a new exhibition of work contemplating the history of the building (previously the Danish Seaman’s Church and hostel). Over the course of his residency, Gordon has been working closely with members of the local community and Tower Hamlets to uncover previously unrecorded stories about the site’s past occupants. Throughout his research the artist discovered inconsistencies between anecdotal histories of the sailors and factual archived evidence. This discrepancy reveals itself within the artist’s work, in which imagined and genuine objects are presented side by side to create ‘new histories of their own’. Alastair replicates trompe l’oeil painting traditions within the work, a practice which uses realistic imagery to create the optical illusion that depicted objects are three-dimensional. The objects chosen by Alastair are infused with nostalgia, pointing to a moment of decline in London’s maritime history. Worn maps, hand-written letters or fragments of reclaimed wood are all rendered in striking detail, leading viewers to contemplate how they might have been salvaged from the numerous Danish ships that used the Port of London in the 1950s and early 1960s. The artist’s faithful representations hint at a cabinet of curiosities or a contemporary museum display, adding to the collection’s oscillation between artefact and artifice. The artist chooses to create his work on bespoke wooden panels hand-made by John Jones technicians. In this body of work, Alastair has left sections of the panel exposed, allowing viewers to see the natural grain of the wood. These museum quality wooden art panels are produced from high quality Birch Ply wood and Gaboon (Redwood Ply). Each panel is supported by kiln dried FSC regulated tulip wood, a durable and strong low emission hardwood which has very few knots. The sides of each panel are sanded by hand to a smooth, flush finish which is perfectly straight..
Danish Departed is on display 30th September – 7th November, 2013.