Roger Ackling, Carol Robertson & Trevor Sutton
This exhibition brings together the work of Roger Ackling (1947 - 2014) with two of his closest friends, Trevor Sutton and Carol Robertson. All three share the same interest in reductive abstraction but have manifestly different working practices.
Ackling always made work outdoors in a ritualised manner by focussing sunlight through a magnifying glass directly onto hand-held wood, drawing precise geometric patterns of burned lines. He frequently used found wood, particularly driftwood, already weathered and aged by the elements in a uniquely visual manner. Later in his career he also used ready-made wooden objects such as tools, picture frames and humorously mundane objects such as spoons or clothes pegs or lollipop sticks.
Sutton shares Ackling’s preference for the restraints of a ritualised and ordered process, but favours the sensual physicality of paint. Recent works on paper employ grids as the key structural element, often drawn in pencil over delicately painted oil grounds. His restrained, quietly gestural brush marks are brought alive by subtle rhythmic colour shifts that might allude to music, or landscape or the quality of light. He also makes colourful watercolours using multi coloured grids, describing them as being like ‘memory maps’, recording personal experiences.
Robertson, also a painter, works most frequently but not exclusively with circles. As a variation upon the circle, she has made a series of small star paintings that complement Ackling’s symbiotic relationship with the sun. She paints nine or eighteen point stars that vary in sharpness from one to another, each using contrasting colour combinations that pulsate outwards with different intensity and concentration from their centre-point. Following the outline of these radiations, the time taken to travel this extra distance becomes a meditation.
Ackling and Sutton taught at Chelsea College of Art & Design in London. They lived with Robertson and Ackling’s wife Sylvia in the same London house for over ten years. Sutton and Robertson introduced Sylvia to Roger at their wedding, thus cementing a life-long friendship between them all. Tragically, Roger died in 2014 after being diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in 2010. The four attended his last solo exhibition with Galerie Gisèle Linder in May 2013.