THOM GORST ‘RUINS OF EMPIRE’
21 February – 31 March
Public Talk 16 March 5pm
The exhibition of paintings by Bath based artist Thom Gorst investigates the aesthetic quality of industrial and maritime surfaces. Thom’s recent doctorate from the Glasgow School of Art studied modern maritime ruins, and these paintings emerged as part of his research through practice.
Drawing inspiration from the early work of the Boyle Family – and sharing their concerns for the pictorial quality of the everyday – and from the current interest in ruination and urban exploration, this work re-presents and re-aestheticises marks made by rust, salt, wear, abrasion and contingent alteration. His work draws our attention back to the sea, and is a fitting exhibition to be held in a warehouse gallery that is itself so redolent with memories of trade and the business of Empire.
It was suggested early in the study that he should make the marks `of an architect’ in response to the experience of visiting these sites of dereliction. It was not clear how an architect typically might make marks, unless these were to be measured or orthogonal; certainly privileging the visual, and delineating the boundaries of space, rather than the gradations of texture, of accretions and of contingent archaeology. It was an unplanned part of the academic unfolding of the subject that in late 2008 the first paintings were made.
“My research has been concerned with the aesthetics of derelict ships: trying to identify something of beauty in cast-off bits of industry. I wasn’t making romance out of shipwrecks, or harking back to the navy of Merrie England: I was deeply interested in the symbolic value of metal surfaces. The canvasses portray the details of metallic maritime surfaces which might be corroded, degraded, abraded, overpainted or just abandoned, and they reinterpret them as things of real beauty. In other words, they suggest a new and perhaps more authentic way in which we might think of the maritime.”