BIRTH SPRINGS, DEATH FALLS
10 January–10 February 2013
Flat Time House opened its adjoining flat as a permanent residency space in 2012. For his first solo show in London, Stuart Whipps presents an exhibition of work made while in residence
Stuart spent his time at FTHo researching the archive material from John Latham's work with the Scottish Office Development Agency during a placement, negotiated by Artist Placement Group (APG) between 1975 and 1976. APG was conceived by Barbara Steveni (then Barbara Latham) in 1965 and established a year later as Art Placement Group (Trust). Stuart's residency involved a visit to the shale bings of West Lothian - Latham's object of study during his time in Scotland. Stuart's exhibition maps the connections between Latham and other historical protagonists including James "Paraffin" Young, who was the first to refine mineral oil on a commercial scale. This process left behind the shale heap bings of West Lothian and financed David Livingstone's "explorations" of Zambia - Latham's birthplace. Stuart's complex project involving photography, installation and text aligns multiple histories and geological monuments with the contemporary moment.
Although the archive was Stuart's starting point, the trajectory of his investigation disassembles any archival categorisation or order by collapsing the representation of historical events and their material evidences into one body of work. Birth Springs, Death Falls positions alongside each other representations of geographical phenomena both naturally occurring such as the Victoria Falls as well as the man-made shale bings and to scale replica of the waterfall built by "Paraffin" Young in Scotland. Stuart's exhibition traces a complex genealogy between the various geological and historical characters by adapting established modes of presentation stretching from landscape photography through to museological framing.
Extract from PARAFFIN YOUNG: Pioneer of Oil 1937 depicting the
replica of Victoria Falls built by Young at his home just outside of
A reproduction of a drawing taken from Mind, Brain & the Quantum, Michael Lockwood, 1989
56 medium format slides with synchronised audio that depict shale samples, locations in West Lothian and material from John Latham's archive. The audio track is a reading from books in John Latham's collection. The content of the reading is dictated by Latham's highlighting and underlining.
Setup for the production of a 16mm stop frame animation depicting 192 pages of highlighted and underlined text from books in John Latham's collection. The animation will be made during the exhibition.
Stuart Whipps' (1979, Birmingham) work begins with an historic position or artefact. His practice is an examination of issues associated with shared bodies of knowledge. Predominantly using photography and video alongside remade or visually reconfigured materials Whipps questions the role of documentation. His work explores the shifting nature of cultural values and context coupled with a questioning of the importance, veracity or significance of historical documents over time. Stuart's recent solo exhibitions include Tick, Tack, Tick, Tack, Tick, David Dale Gallery, Glasgow (2012); Why Contribute to the Spread of Ugliness? Ikon Gallery, Birmingham (2011); New Wooabbeleri, Focal Point Gallery, Southend on Sea (2010); The Scenery is Very Wonderful. The Weather is Good, Oriel Davies Gallery, Newtown, Wales (2010) and Ming Jue, New Art Gallery Walsall (2008).