Artists Ginny Elston and Susie Johnston find common ground through their respective research interests and creative realisations, both inextricably linked to the nature of knowledge. Their exhibition seeks to interrogate the object and its potential to withdraw – or withhold – itself from participating in our construction of the world. Can an object “disavow itself from involvement with us”, new materialist Jane Bennett asks? If our meanings and ideas that we impose on objects do not exhaust its meaning, as Bennett implies, then objects have a life beyond the limitations of the human world. Where does that problem take us as visual artists?
In playing with appearances, and exploring the allure and representation of objects, the exhibition places making and material as our primary medium and mode of thought. Each artist will engage with a diverse set of materials and objects, culminating in new bodies of works that reflect upon the vitality of non-human matter and embrace the liminal spaces between knowing and not knowing. Because we intend our methodologies of working to be less about what we plan to impose on a material, and more about what happens when we work with a material, we remain open to the different forms that the work will take. By acknowledging that art operates within the realm of not producing something fully knowable, we propose to explore a collision of matter, metaphor and making, leading ultimately to a porous and shifting flow of knowledge and meaning.
Ginny Elston is a cross-disciplinary artist, researcher and educator based in Edinburgh. Her current practice forms an embodied living inquiry into the connections between visual art, philosophy and arts education. Currently a PhD researcher at Glasgow School of Art, her practice-led project explores the links between formalist critiques of painting and sculpture and new materialism, a contemporary discourse which rethinks the nature of subject-object relations. At the heart of her practice is a love of material exploration, and a fascination with how an artwork itself can provide the locus for multiple layers of interwoven meaning, connection, perception and correspondence with the world around us.
Susie Johnston is a Scottish, Perth-based artist whose work occupies the scope of human – nonhuman relations through direct material encounters. Her career spans over 25 years as she continues to investigate, ‘what do objects do in a field of visual signification?’ Working across painting, ceramics, and sculpture she attends to materials engaging with subjects of loss, destruction, and vulnerability and embraces connections with and through matter transcending a privileging of the human. She works between the intersections of abstraction and figuration embracing making as the source of where and how her thinking and learning unfolds. She is currently a post-graduate researcher at Duncan of Jordanstone, The University of Dundee, and is materially supported by the waste resource company, Binn Group. Her research investigates making and metaphor as expansive ways of challenging dominant modes of thinking and ways of being in and with the world.