Gesture ( A Time based exhibition) 2024

This time based exhibition evolved over two weeks around the symposium investigating Gesture. It was beautifully curated by Dr Jennifer Johnson and Tom Hanbury . The idea of the show was to feed off from ideas from the overall event.

Installation of Performance Painting Palimpsests.

Installation of Performance work at St John’s College Oxford

Here is a description of the focal room in the show by Dr Jennifer Johnson.

The works in this room represent Rowan-Hull’s ongoing exploration of performative painting derived from a synaesthetic experience of music and colour. At the far end of this room, draped in canonicals, is a work produced in 2008, in Leeds Music Concert Hall, when the pianist Peter Hill performed various works by Messiaen and Rowan-Hull responded to these in paint. The Anglican canonicals, which belonged to the artist’s father, add a sculptural layer of reflection to the dynamism of the work beneath. The shapes of the fabric reconfigure the now absent figure who wore them as well as inviting an interaction between ritual and repetition as memories and expressions interweave.

On the floor are two pieces of perspex printed with musical score and painted during a performance by Rowan-Hull with the musician Roger Redgate. Theirs is a collaboration that extends over years, each iteration consolidating and exploring improvisation and experience. As well as the perspex, there are two printed sheets in which Al and i-pad technologies are brought to bear in an editorial process reconsidering the relationship between notation and mark-making, between light and movement, and the question of what these remaining objects are.

The work in paint evolves rapidly in these performances; what remains is both a trace of that direct interaction between musical and visual expression, and something new in their own right. Here, laid horizontally in pools of light, the viewer is invited to step between these synaesthetic moments and to be immersed in the memorialisation of the music that formed



…in the interior things do not remain alien…. Foreignness transforms itself from alienated things into expression; mute things speak as ‘symbols.’ The ordering of things in the dwelling—space is called ‘arrangement’. Historically illusory objects are arranged in it as the semblance of unchangeable nature. In the interior, archaic images unfold” …

Walter Benjamin’s ‘The Arcades Project’ by Adorno from “Kierkegaard”.

Empty House Studies Installation

Installation at St John’s College Oxford

‘A song when being sung and played, squires a body. And it does this by taking over and briefly possessing existing bodies….

Again and again it takes over the body of the singer. And after a while the body of the circle of listeners who, as they listen and gesture to the song, are remembering and foreseeing.

A song, as distinct from the bodies it takes over, is unfixed in time and place. A song narrates a past experience…. A song while filling the present hopes to reach a listening ear in some future somewhere. It leans forward, further and further….. Songs lean forward….

Much of what happens to us in life is nameless because our vocabulary is too poor. Most stories get told out loud because the storyteller hopes that the telling of the story can transform a nameless event into a familiar or intimate one.

We tend to associate intimacy with closeness and closeness with a certain sun of shared experiences. Yet every day total strangers, who will never say a single word to one another, cab share an intimacy. An intimacy contained in the exchange of a glance, a nod of the head, a smile, a shrug of a shoulder. A closeness which lasts for a second or for the duration of a song being sung or listened to together…. An agreement without clauses. A conclusion spontaneously shared between the untold stories gathered around the song.’

John Berger: some bites about song (for Yasmine Hamadan)

Final Performance

Collaborative Painting Performance

Here is a review of the exhibition by Dr Mark Sheerin