Christina Mackie, Jerry Pethick
Bigger than a book, wilder than a tree
September 14–October 27, 2012

Catriona Jeffries is pleased to announce the exhibition Bigger than a book, wilder than a tree which brings together for the first time the work of Christina Mackie and Jerry Pethick. Borrowing its title from a 1994–97 work by Pethick, this pairing seeks to explore the affinities between their sculptural practices, which share a belief in the communicative abilities of materials to speak beyond their formal and aesthetic capabilities, from the specifically determined width of an old growth cedar plank, to the blush of a painted fluorescent tube, a compressed ball of sulfur or the frail walls of a hornets’ nest.

There exists an enigmatic relationship between the two artists, although never having met one another. They share an intelligence for the distinct workings of sculpture to invoke ‘those other reminders of space that help the visualizing of our surrounding air … the dust particles in sunlight and wind devils, the dappled sunlight falling through trees, and the turbulence of air by passing cars, or the dandelion fluff of spring wafting in all directions.’ [1] The exhibition will present two major sculptural installations of precise material detail by Mackie. Her experimental rendering of a landscape examines the ever present wilderness of the coast but avoids clichés of representation of place. Particulates of colour manifest in pigment, sand and the flecks of handmade ceramic glaze in her multifarious installation, where one looks down as opposed to the sky to find an image of the moon, conjuring various planes of vision and emotion with a stillness of observation like one’s eyes slowly adjusting in the dark.

Similarly, Pethick’s notion of space as a ‘tangible commodity’ informed his practice that sought to extrapolate space through an augmentation of perception. Two particular works by Pethick will be exhibited from the later part of his career, Gobi Clone (1996–97) and Trough (2001), both works exclude Pethick’s characteristic use of the lens array, thus calling attention to his interest in the material presence of space. The balanced arrangement of existing components in Gobi Clone form various intensities of compactness, from each individual stalk of packed and baled straw to tiny individual orbs of Styrofoam, while the poise of Trough belies the weight of an aircraft’s fuel tank and the density of a segmented maple tree. The artists’ respective aggregative compositions share a mutual desire to understand the ancient natural formations and industry of a particular terrain – imagined or otherwise – beyond a parochial investigation of landscape.

[1] Jerry Pethick, ‘The Tenacious Image’, Notion of Nothing, Stadtgalerie, Saarbrucken, 1994

Christina Mackie (b. 1956) lives and works in London. She studied at the Vancouver School of Art in the mid 1970s and then at Saint Martins College of Art, London. She was recently awarded a major commission by the Contemporary Art Society, London for Nottingham Castle Museum and in 2005 she was the winner of the Becks Futures Art Prize. Recent solo exhibitions include Painting the Weights, Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen and Chisenhale Gallery, London (2012); Us, Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne (2010); The Judges, Supportico Lopez, Berlin, and Jerwood Room, Oxford (2010); Steal, In the Silent, Sonia Rosso, Turin (2008); This That and The Other, Herald St, London (2007); Art Now Sculpture Court, Tate Britain, London (2007); The Interzone, Henry Moore Institute, Leeds (2002); Meanwhile, cca Kitakyushu (2000). Her work has been included in numerous international exhibitions, including Fragmented Bodies, Tate Britain, London (2011); Sillabario, Nomas Foundation, Rome (2010); Molecular Etwas, Kunst-Werke, Berlin (2010); Busan Biennale, Busan (2008); Love Me Tender, Tate Britain, London (2007); British Art Show 6, Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Newcastle, and tour (2006); Beck’s Futures, ICA, London, (2005); Real World, Modern Art Oxford (2004); Black Box Recorder, Museum Ludwig, Cologne (2003); Animations, Kunst-Werke, Berlin; PS1, New York (2001-2). Her monograph Painting the Weights was published by the Chisenhale Gallery, London and Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen in 2012.

Jerry Pethick (1935–2003) was born in London, Ontario and in 1957 moved to London, UK to study at the Chelsea College of Art and later at the Royal College of Art. In 1968 he moved to Ann Arbor and then San Francisco and in 1975 moved permanently to Hornby Island, British Columbia, where he lived and worked until the end of his life. A forthcoming solo exhibition of his work will take place at the Vancouver Art Gallery in 2014. Solo exhibitions include Simon Fraser University Gallery (2011); Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver (2008); Typology of Space, Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver (2004); Drawing Room, Art Gallery of Mississauga; Art Gallery of Nova Scotia; Musée Regional de Rimouski, Quebec (2001); Out of the Corner of an Eye, Center of Contemporary Art, Seattle (2000); Straw Tower, London Regional Art Gallery, London, Ontario (1998); The Further World, Canadian Embassy, Tokyo (1997); Notion of Nothing, Stadtgalerie, Saarbrucken (1994); Still Veils, The Power Plant, Toronto (1992); La Dot / Transition in Progress, 49th Parallel Centre for Contemporary Canadian Art, New York; Crousel Robelin BAMA, Paris (1985-86); Traces of Discovery, Canadian Cultural Centre, Paris; Vancouver Art Gallery (1984-86); The Eskimo / Krieghoff Proximity Device: A Cultural Osmosis, Vancouver Art Gallery (1979); Space Arrays, Nova 1 Gallery, Berkeley (1972). His work has been included in numerous international group exhibitions and a selection of monographs and artists’ books have been published on his work since the late 1970s.

Documentation by SITE Photography.