“Harmony of yellow and gold”
. . . a term used by James McNeill Whistler to describe a group of works he designed with
E W Godwin called the Butterfly Suite made for a stand at the Exposition Universalle in Paris in 1878.
An exploration of materials, colour and forms are drawn together in Sally Osborn’s first solo show at doggerfisher. Drawings, sculptural paper forms, amorphous shapes and freestanding sculpture are carefully choreographed by Osborn to generate an intimate yet delicately intense atmosphere in the gallery space.
At the centre of the gallery is a wooden structure constructed from untreated timber. This sculpture references an iconic piece of furniture designed by the mid 19th century designer, architect and leading aesthete, E W Godwin. The “Anglo-Japanese’ sideboard with its spare rectilinearity, simplicity of line and form was seen as a rejection of Victorian decorative excess — Godwin has since been described as a proto-Modernist. Osborn has further reduced Godwin’s design to a skeletal outline, a 3 – dimensional drawing in space.
Space and illusion are themes that Osborn further explores in a group of paintings and sculpture: the space between a work’s subject matter and its formal elements. Watercolour, often seen as a traditional medium, has been used in all the work. A sculptural mass of aluminium foil is unable to absorb the yellowy golden watercolour that has been painted on to it, while the application of watercolour on to a large piece of tissue paper, has displaced its original yellow colouring. This ‘bleed’ of colour has been collected, along with drips and residue from Osborn’s painting process, onto the constructed paper cylindrical forms arranged on a further gallery wall.
Elsewhere, a sequence of portraits show watercolour manipulated to describe a young boy’s face. The face also appears on a pinkish, once-folded paper tablecloth. Godwin believed that only by understanding the past could you create the future; Osborn in exploring the properties of paint and surfaces, form and space is likewise introducing the traditions of watercolour painting to today’s materials of aluminium foil, colour-treated and embossed tablecloths and flimsy tissue paper.
Sally Osborn studied at Glasgow School of Art. She completed her BA Hons Fine Art in 1999 and her MFA in 2003. Recent exhibitions include Country Grammar, Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow; Landor’s Cottage, Glasgow Project Space (solo) (2004); Pallas, The Changing Room, Stirling and a two person show with Alex Frost at Switchspace, Glasgow (2003). In 2003, Osborn was artist in residence at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, Dundee the residency culminated in a solo show, A Sketch of the Universe at Cooper Gallery, University of Dundee. She lives and works in Glasgow.