Author – Karin Schulze
Catalogue Text 2018

If there is one thing that connects the work shown in the exhibition “Serious Play” by Lucy Teasdale and Michael Markwick, it is perhaps the playful yet serious attempt to evoke dynamics, while using mediums that are motionless in themselves. 

The sculptor Lucy Teasdale approaches this task in very concrete terms: “It’s important to me to reach a point when modelling, that conveys to the viewer a sense of movement”. Markwick’s paintings are permeated by less tangible dynamics: “The earth draws back, a storm gathers, the light changes. I’m drawn to events that are full of energy.”

Most of Markwick’s pictures develop out of innumerable layers and over-painting. To accentuate the physical structure of the paint, he sometimes mixes sand into it or cuts it away with razor blades and spatulas. Markwick understands the painting process as both a dialogue and conflict between colour, form and narrative motifs such as elements of landscapes. In his current work hints emerge of human figures, a flower or a paper kite. 

In titles such as Sailor on the Styx (2018) or Clattering Bones of a Flower (2018) the artist has started to emphasize traces of bones, skulls or skeletons, which had continually appeared spontaneously in older works during the painting process and in this way emphasised the latent confrontation with death and mortality. 

A new, brighter state of pictorial composition has created room for this. Until 2015 Markwick was inspired primarily by expressionist influences – by Joan Mitchell, Willem de Kooning or the CoBrA group. Since making a journey to see the work of Piero della Francesca and frescoes of the early Italian Renaissance, you can see a greater lightness in his paintings. This lightness is characterised by brighter colours, more open spaces and stronger graphically nuanced forms. 

Nevertheless the pictorial space is still wrought with discords. In this way Markwick keeps all the elements active and vibrant and stimulates the gaze of the viewer. The viewer’s gaze is pushed away from the finely shaded or swirled paint, zooms into details with an enormous impression of depth or, as in The Slide (2017) is sucked into a lead-dark chasm. In Poet Climbing out of the Earth (2017) a spring-like lyricism seems to conquer the weightiness, while in Bird Waiting for Storm (2018) a cascade of light rebels against the stone grey shadows that threaten to swallow up all other colours. 
If Markwick’s dynamics transform into atmospheric reactions, the movement of human or animals bodies flicker into being in Teasdale’s sculptures. The artist makes her sculptures out of clay and then casts them using a negative form in Acrystal, a type of artificial resin, which, when pigments are added allows fine nuances of colour. As a starting point she often uses photographs found in newspapers. Grandly National (2017) goes back to a photo of the traditional British horse race the Grand National, in which countless horses have been killed in the past. In this work the viewer feels the the powerful / suspenseful reversal of the strong jumping movement of the horses into a crashing fall. A base shaped like an accordion supports this dynamic. 

In some works the movement comes out of its seeming opposite, an emphasis on the materials and construction. So in Lift (2016) and Toad (2017) the original block like shape of the clay in its packet remains recognisable. In other works, the supporting armature, which would normally be hidden, is intentionally visible: for example in The Mustering (2016), that captures spell-like the moment, that cranes collect in the evening in two trees standing close together. 

There’s a particular focus on circular movement: Hold (2018) follows a dancing pair, who while turning are leaning dramatically away from each other, while Polo! (2017) imagines the sudden turns of two polo ponies on such a small point that even the ground seems to take part in this circular movement. 
The raw surfaces bring another dynamic into play: these draw the viewer to see the outline of a particular situation but then let this outline fall back into the material. Thus Teasdale works in many different ways within the medium of motionless sculpture to dissolve the statuesque and to depose the pose that seeks to displace the passing of time.