Itch!

Robin Mason
with Gabriel Gbadamosi, Anne Petters and Debra Allman

Exhibtion Dates: 10 May – 7 June 2019
Private View: 9 May 2019, 6-9pm

Unit 1 Gallery | Workshop is excited to present Itch!, a solo exhibition showcasing new work by Robin Mason, including collaborative works with Gabriel Gbadamosi, Anne Petters and Debra Allman.

Itch! is an exhibition conceived by Robin Mason as a reaction to the poem ‘Deutsche Schuld’ by Gabriel Gbadamosi, that simply would not leave him. Unit 1 Gallery | Workshop proved to be a space that would suit a site specific work that may just be the satisfying scratch to this long standing itch. Mason observes: “Nagging at my conscience for five years. ‘Dresden, Frankfurt. Completely burnt.’ It was the antithesis of the itch of 1983, when D.M. Thomas’s White Hotel mentored my images into desire and longing. The itch of Gbadamosi’s poem lingered, its exploration of the slip in language in translation eventually subjected me to an understanding of my own preoccupations with sublimating. This slip in language allows the decorative, the playful, the bejewelled sugar coating of darkness to enable the unspeakable to be spoken. Liberated from the wounding of initial reading, and through his careful crafting of language, a new mural scaled painting in the studio, ‘Bedeckt’ became free to become its own being.”

The itch of the past, the future and the present.

The itch as desire. The itch to draw and paint. The itch of the slippage of language, the itch of translation, the itch of sublimation. The itch of D.M. Thomas’s White Hotel, the itch of Otto Dix’s painting ‘War’ held in limbo in the Neue Meister in Dresden. The slip in language where decorative, playful, bejewelled sugar coated itches of darkness enable the unspeakable to be spoken. Road trips itch. Collaborators itch before they collaborate. The itch of landscape traditions of surrealism, of David Claerbout’s film, Travel. The constant itch of cartoons and the comic, the itch of perceived reality shifting from the laws of the Renaissance into realms of Looney Tunes. What is this itch to displace truth, to joke, to break this seriousness? The itch that becomes vocal in the everyday. An itch that gets so deep seated that the studio becomes the only place to turn to. The itch of the studio builds and builds, as all excuses and reasons not to scratch run out.

Dresden collaborators

Dresden is the common denominator with the four collaborators. It’s where Mason’s wife and fellow traveller Debra Allman have journeyed on three occasions. Visiting the city, with its deep history and store of treasures, and beyond into Bohemia into Saxon Switzerland whose landscape gave birth to the Romantic movement and the most famous painting of Casper David Friedrich. The outcome of their sharing has formed itself into a bejewelled and bedecked hiking stick and a small ladder, laden with souvenirs and trinkets. It’s in this area where Dresden born artist, (Mason’s colleague and friend) Anne Petters spent time during childhood visits to her Grandmother’s home amongst the Lilienstein and the Bastei, amidst the haunting fogs that rise from the river Elbe. Their collaborative works include ‘Morgentau’ (morning dew), merging glass casts from objects Petters collected from the area last winter, with works on paper by Mason made from memories of that place, bringing together the mind and body of that location of poetic mystery and wonder. The itch of the burning of Dresden also merges these collaborators through Mason’s friend Gabriel Gbadamosi’s poem, which draws on his fathers experience of arriving into a post war Germany before settling in Vauxhall, London, as well as his recollections of a writing residency in the museums of Frankfurt where he assisted in the mining of the museum archive of difficult documentation and histories.

Robin Mason grew up in Porthcawl, South Wales. He completed the Foundation Course at Cardiff College of Art going on to study Fine Art in Wolverhampton winning the Northern Young Contemporaries. Following his MA in Painting at The Royal College of Art he established a studio in London. He has continued to exhibit nationally and internationally and his work can be found in public, significant private and corporate collections including those of the Government Art Collection, Simmons & Simmons, London Underground and the Royal College of Art. He lives and works between London and Porthcawl and is Head of Fine Art at City and Guilds of London Art School.

Debra Allman is currently leading the BA Jewellery & Silversmithing course at UCA Farnham. She studied MA Metalwork and Jewellery at the Royal College of Art (RCA), receiving the Garrard Award for work with precious metals. After graduating from the RCA, she established a studio in London and exhibited nationally and internationally. She continues to be a practitioner and her work is held in public and private collections. With nearly 20 years’ teaching experience, Debra is committed to the promotion and continued development of jewellery.

Gabriel Gbadamosi is an Irish-Nigerian poet and playwright. His London novel Vauxhall (2013) won the Tibor Jones Pageturner Prize and Best International Novel at the Sharjah Book Fair. He was AHRC Creative Fellow in British, European and African performance at the Pinter Centre, Goldsmiths, a Judith E. Wilson Fellow for creative writing at Cambridge University and Royal Literary Fund Fellow at City & Guilds of London Art School. Plays include Eshu’s Faust (Jesus College, Cambridge), Hotel Orpheu (Schaubühne, Berlin), Shango (DNA, Amsterdam) and for radio The Long, Hot Summer of ’76 (BBC Radio 3) which won the first Richard Imison Award. He presented arts and ideas programme Night Waves for BBC Radio 3, was a director of Wasafiri Magazine for International Contemporary Writing and is a trustee of the Arcola Theatre, London.

Anne Petters is a multi media artist with a strong background in glass. She received a Diploma in Fine Arts from the Institute for Ceramics and Glass Art, Hoehr-Grenzhausen, Germany and a MFA in Sculpture/Glass from Alfred University, New York. She has been awarded numerous Artist Residencies, including a fellowship at Wheaton Arts New Jersey in 2012, a one year residential stay at the Edinburgh College of Art 2013-2014, the Emerging Artists in Residence at the Pilchuck Glass School, Stanwood, Washington and a Visiting Scholar Residency at the Southern Illinois University, IL, US 2015. In 2014 Anne Petters received the prestigious Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust Scholarship for excellence in British Craft, London. She has taught as Visiting Lecturer at the Royal College of Art and is currently leading the glass studio at the City and Guilds of London Art School.