Review: “Light” By Gabriel Hartley at Studio Leigh


For some of you this Easter break means going on a vacation with a group of friends you haven’t seen for a while, revising for the exams or a deep relaxation before the university marathon…

For me, this year it means going on an explorative expedition around galleries in a pursuit of something unusual, hidden from a public eye that would make my heart sing or if not just something that would be engaging in some way. Such a long break allows for a freedom to be particularly experimental. I decided that Studio Leigh would be a perfect place to start as when  I looked at the website I  was intrigued by the current exhibition called “ Light”.

 I am generally drawn to the concept of light as a means of both expression and impression. I found it an interesting concept to discover a light among the abundance of lights, something which, a big city like London has. When I  read an article about the gallerie’s recent project showing several emerging artists and supporting artisans through collaborating with them in making functional art objects, it seemed to me quite an unusual and innovative agenda for a commercial gallery in Shoreditch and my urge to go grew even stronger.

 When I arrived at the N4 Garden Walk ,the gallery appeared to be closed. It was quite an unseemly building, painted grey and only the name indicated that it is a right place, although I was not entirely sure. I recalled looking at a website which appeared so official that  did not correspond with the first impression of the establishment . So I went to a design studio next door just to be told that they are not able to give me any information. I saw a group of builders gathered outside the entrance of the gallery, I was told by one of them that the director, Taya (Taya Leigh Burrs) is not in at the moment however  I am very welcome to come in and have a look around.

The first impression I got was that the space is far too imperfect to be a gallery, it is unlike a traditional white cube space where all the walls and a floor are white and the security guards or otherwise gallery stuarts looking like ones await you by the entrance. Usually you are kindly asked  to leave your heavy bag behind so you don’t cause any trouble to the valuables. The fact that I was there on my own having got an access by a coincidence rather then an appointment made me feel both excited and awkward as I felt  I crossed the line.

 The first floor consisted of two rooms divided by an inbuilt wall, which made me feel even more like I was on a discovery mission.The larger room contained a display of a series of glass blown sculptural pieces playfully arranged around it. Some of them were hanging down the ceiling, one placed on the table hanging down like a sock and the other stood on a tall table placed against the wall and appeared leaning. Artists used glass here in a very sculptural and painterly way. Gabriel Hartley used to a more traditional approach, however in this show he decided to expand the range of materials.  Pieces that were suspended from the ceiling were given a quality of lanterns by having a series of lamps inbuilt in them .Light illuminated the texture altering the tonal quality of a glass. The pieces were very expressive, they display an interest in form, texture and surrounding space. Sculptures appeared very dynamic to me whilst being static objects. Hartley managed to capture a fluid property of a glass as a material. In his statement for the exhibition artist explains that the framework of his project was making an object with functional value and therefore it was impossible  not to relate the work to a domestic environment. This was the reason, he explains, to give the pieces languid, relaxed quality. I could definitely sense this connection due to the presence of such domestic objects as tables  as a means of display and spatial awareness. I felt that all of the sculptures could find some kind of use even if it is the most unimaginable.

The ground floor was illuminated by a series of back lit glass paintings displaying an artists alternative enquiry into painting and an optical effect which is a departure from a traditional canvas frame.

 Definitely recommend a visit for those who seek creative inspiration or just curious in seeing something different, the show is on till the 23rd of April!

 In addition to that  there is a number of examples of funky public art to be enjoyed along Gracechurch st, Bishopsgate and King William St on the way to a gallery if you are walking from the London Bridge area.


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BA Sculpture student at Camberwell College of Arts,London. I am passionate about writing and in particular interested in the connection between modern art and technology,new groundbreaking projects.

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