Text Poached from Steve Varndell's blog

Treasure Seekers VIII

There is a scene in the martial arts film, 'Hero', when, in order to learn how to defeat his enemy, the hero (Jet Li), must watch him write. Only in this way can he deduce the subtleties of his foe's style and thus devise a strategy to defeat him.

The work of Caitlin Griffiths in Treasure Seekers VIII also links to the revealing of the psyche through handwriting (graphology), but instead of examining the minds of her foes, the archives of Margaret Street Art School have been plundered, and the target of Caitlin's inquiry are the minute takers, from as far back as 1821. By studying these minutes, several short stories are produced, creating a more intimate link to the personalities of the minute takers. The stories are sometimes surreal in nature, suggesting a dream like introspection on the part of the minute taker, sometimes written from a day to perspective of the subject, examining possible attitudes, actions and self criticisms. The stories stop short of giving too much away or over embellishing the characters. Each one is a self contained snapshot, filling out these anonymous characters, but equally suggesting more questions for the viewer to consider.

Accompanying the short stories were a selection of small paintings, made by Griffiths, using the minute takers handwriting as inspiration (see below). These images are highly stylised, informed by the classical and elegant handwriting commonly used all those years ago. They compliment the stories by developing the work of the minute takers slightly away from their words and into the aesthetic. I can't help but wish the minute takers had done more doodling in the margins. There is a link in the way the forms have been isolated and diplayed as single entities, to the more classical Japanese painters and calligraphers motto of less is more elegant. Perhaps the show also draws on the likes of Robert Motherwell, who carefully re-produced his own drawing years after he had made it in, At Five In The Afternoon, and Franz Kline, who's style leans so heavily on the ideas behind calligraphy. Either way, for a show with six pieces on the wall, there is plenty to think about.

The show is open 9-5pm mon-fri until the 26th of March, and was curated by Charlie Levine and Kate Pennington Wilson. It is one of a series of exhibitions developing work informed by the Margaret Street building. The title; Treasure Seekers, relates to their role as curators, drawing new meaning from forgotten histories. I'm not sure when the next one is, but will let you know as soon as I do, so keep an eye on the calendar, or subscribe to theRSS feed to keep up to date.


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