SKY BOATS & OTHER VOYAGES | KEN SPOONER
18TH JUNE - 11TH JULY 2020
“For me, art has been like a voyage. In order to be truly creative, it’s about taking a voyage into the unknown which awakens the creative spirit within. It’s only then that you reach that magical moment when you begin to create something unique.
“I see with my hands, but I listen with my eyes” - I try and follow these imaginary rules, in order to be truly creative. It’s no use just repeating yourself because you’ve learnt a technique; you need to go beyond that in order to produce the magic.”
Ken Spooner, 5th June 2020
This exhibition grew from a visit to the Barbara Hepworth museum one winter morning in February.
St Ives was shrouded in a thick sea fog, obscuring its cobbled streets and muffling the boats in the harbour. In the grounds of the Hepworth museum, with its looming bronze and stone forms, the ghosts of St. Ives artists past lurked in the mist, in the solitude and dust of Barbara’s studio and living room. Wandering along a deserted Fore Street later that morning, the sign outside the Zion Church gradually emerged from the mist. “THERE IS HOPE NO MATTER HOW FIERCE THE STORM.” It was just weeks before lockdown.
Through the metaphor of ‘sky boats’ - Ken’s name for the for the celestial barges believed to transfer the souls of the living into the underworld in Egyptian mythology - this show transports the viewer from the Cornish harbour town of St. Ives to the River Nile, and the religious rites of ancient Egypt and beyond.
The themes running through the exhibition - transference – liminality – journeying – the flight of birds - reflect this strange moment in modern history in which everything has been put on hold, in which travel has been forbidden but life and death continue unchecked. For the artist as well as for each of us, this has been a year in which the spectre of death has never been far away.
Suffering this winter from a debilitating lung infection, during which Ken feared he’d never work again, these works share a renewed thirst for life and joie de vivre. There is lightness in these paintings, a new playfulness in the ceramic pieces. The spirits haunting these canvases are joyful ones. And for artist as for viewer, the the enforcement of self-isolation has focused minds on the mysticism and exoticism of the faraway.
‘Your art is the fullest expression of your life’ is a maxim Ken lives by. Brush and spatula journey across canvas and board, the artist exploring his own passage - how the man, as artist, travels through space and time – through his experience of creating. Even now, at the age of almost 80, he is not afraid to confront this so openly.
‘Sky Boats’ are a fitting metaphor for this exhibition. In a time of global crisis, we need art which is perennial; which looks as much globally as locally and focuses as much on integrity as mark-making. In the words of Bob & Roberta Smith: ‘THERE IS STILL ART. THERE IS STILL HOPE.’ Let this sublime exhibition carry you from the shores of twentieth century St. Ives through the seas of ancient cultures and beyond, on this and other voyages.
Alicia Livingstone, 15th June 2020
Please call the gallery on 07702279011 or email to enquire or purchase.
We are offering free UK shipping for this exhibition; please contact us for international shipping prices.
Please enquire for framed images of paintings. Catalogue and film of the exhibition to follow.