Katy Cole, Annie O'Donnell, Sarah Tulloch
18th May - 30th June 2017
Category Error situates artists as initiators in the search for identity and attachment in an ongoing period of displacement and uncertainty. It continues the tradition of collage as a strategy for cultural critique and for making connections and transformations across geographical, political and social differences. The exhibition project was initiated by Sarah Tulloch as part of an ACE grant to complete her first artist’s book, ObjectImage, with American publishers, Daylight Books. Alongside the publication launch, Sarah was keen to work with other North East artists with similar concerns over an extended period, to produce new bodies of work for public exhibition.
Through the use of the cut-out and sculptural assemblage, the artists of Category Error examine idiosyncratic ways of working, both individually and collaboratively, where making and exhibiting become research tools to examine parochial, subjective approaches to ‘collage practice’ itself. The artists deliberately employ category ‘errors’ that blend abstraction with the figurative, parts with the whole, and thinking with making. These ideas have been forming over a period of several months via investigations into their shared roots in movements from Dada to Arte Povera and Arte Útil. The collaboration ranged from studio visits to examine each other’s ‘hoards’ of collage materials to a research trip to the exhibition of Hannah Höch’s collages at the Kunsthalle, Mannheim, which allowed them time to reflect on an ideology that questions value placement and explores entropy and fragility over monumentality.
Category Error sees Sarah Tulloch’s series ‘Newspaper Heads’ animated to create an installation that includes both her source materials and final works. Tulloch takes a daily newspaper and from that day’s images creates a collage. This self-imposed structure grew from a desire to work with contemporary everyday imagery and make room for an element of chance in image selection. It is also a response to noticing juxtapositions within newspaper layouts that were already disturbing and incongruous - a car advert opposite a story of war or destruction. Tulloch explores and expands this complex unsettled image bank, making conceptual and formal links with the image content and the material fabric of her source material.
Katy Cole’s collages are temporal, site specific works which bisect the line between science fact and science fiction. Using found imagery largely collated from her extensive collection of National Geographic magazines. Cole creates landscapes depicting notions of space travel, tourism and colonization. Whilst holidaymakers explore new found playgrounds, the surrounding terrain is mined for precious resources, whilst a threat of hidden danger lurks disregarded in the encircling void of the unknown. For Category Error these scenes invade corners, windows, beams and pillars. Occupying boxes, viewed through lenses, spy holes or from awkward angles, they manipulate scale and shift focus, drawing the eye into an unorthodox way of observing one’s environment.
Annie O’Donnell’s hanging assemblages for Category Error create spaces for seeing and reading one thing through another, their slight movement doubling the body’s inability to have a totally fixed viewpoint. Blending ideas of historic German rood screens with the facades of Brutalist architecture their repetitions suggest porous boundaries. Using objects divorced from their original manufactured purpose, O’Donnell builds unexpected relationships of thought and thing that develop in tandem with more traditional paper-on-paper collage sketches. What could it mean to attach something to something else with difficulty? Are these unusual solutions more intriguing than more natural partnerships? How do their fragments affect our ability to negotiate space or place?
Collage is a reflexive, revealing process, questioning what happens to our relationship with the image or object when it is not only disrupted in its surface or form, but also in its display. Its accessible materials, interdependent images and universal, contingent methods are exemplars of its relevance to international art practice at a time of massive social and economic flux.
Category Error is supported by Arts Council England and Daylight Books.