Thursday, 13 July 2017

Loose connections at Cley

Each year at the start of July, North Norfolk sees one of the more interesting initiatives in the local art world, bringing contemporary art in all its forms to an area where there is no public contemporary art gallery. This year, as last, the event is in the beautiful setting of St.Margaret's Church above Cley-next-the-sea.

Going along to the opening evening last week, I was immediately struck by the difference between last year and this. Each year the curator is different and accordingly different criteria are applied to the selection procedure. This time, the theme is 'Connectivity' and whilst I appreciate the thinking behind this, to me this was not particularly evident in some of that selection. The word 'local' could be equally applied and of course at this point you enter the world of many, if not most, of the galleries along the coast. That said, the exhibition is well-worth a visit - there is some superb work here and much that would not be readily found elsewhere.

Purely personally, it is the ceramics and textiles that are the most interesting - and as is often the case it is the more thoughtful and less obvious works that leave the deepest impression, and it is here you sense fundamental connection.

The two dimensional work - other than those few who have used stone and earth for pigmentation and texture - seemed to struggle to achieve any real sense of connectivity and I was left puzzling in a number of cases as to why they had been selected; nothing wrong and very competent but why? I obviously need to go and have another look. In practical terms, the impression at the opening was that there were maybe fewer present than previous years - but maybe that is the price of selecting fewer of the local 'names'. Certainly the Norwich art community seemed to be less in evidence.

Regrettably the one thing they didn't miss was the opening itself. My hearing is not perfect by any means, but standing relatively close I - and apparently those around me - couldn't hear what was said. Speaking in Church is itself an art form and this eluded those who spoke; too fast for the echoes and given we couldn't hear, too lengthy. Of the shouty alternative 'critic', the less said the better.

Cley 17 continues until 6th August

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