Friday, 18 March 2011

Gilding the Lily at Transition Gallery

Jessica Holmes - seen here

I'll probably miss Gilding the Lily at Transition Gallery in east London, but it looks really interesting. I like the concept of the exhibition, it is a question that probably all artists - maybe all creatives - have to confront in their own practice. Here's the gallery publicity for the show: 

'To gild refined gold, to paint the lily,
is wasteful and ridiculous excess.' 

 If making art is in part an act of embellishment, one critique could be whether the embellishment is adding something new, deepening our view or whether it is just excess with no additional value. The word embellishment has a range of meanings, from making beautiful, improving, adding fictitious details, to wasteful exaggeration. This range indicates its slippery subjectivity, depending on the eye of the beholder.

Even the most austere understated artist is an embellisher of sorts as nothing can be stripped away completely as there is always a fiction and pleasure at the heart of every artwork. The pleasure of making and of viewing would arise from the embellishing of ideas and materials, and whether or not the embellishment has become alchemic.

Each work requires a different strategy to achieve this act of embellishment. Some artists may explore ideas and materials through excess and opulence, others by pairing down. The artists in this show reflect this arc.

The show includes the work of Max Hymes, Jessica Holmes, Richard Livingston, Stuart Mayes, Will Tuck, Paul Westcombe, Laura White, Nicola Williams and runs from 19 March to 10 April 2011.


  1. Thankyou for posting that statement, it has solved a few issues I have been having and makes complete sense. In fact hits the nail on the head completely.

  2. Brilliant Sue! Really great to have that articulated I think, interesting - wish I could get to see the show.


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