The Tortoise and the Heirs Apparent create school Reunion with a Difference

by Cass Art

An exhibition called Tortoise, despite its name, is expected to be anything but slow-moving when it opens in London this week.

The Wilson Williams Gallery  opened its doors on February 12 to an exciting, innovative display which reunites art school teachers and pupils.

Former pupils have each invited an artist who once taught them to exhibit new works alongside their own, at the artist-run space WW Gallery.

Thus, the relationship of student and teacher melts into one between artist and artist as the once tomorrow's artists become today's new pretenders to the throne.

The viewer is left to speculate whether the former connection between artists continues to determine the present. The former pupils said: “Art school teaches you how to question and edit your own ideas as part of a self-critical dialogue where often the most successful decisions are instinctive.”

Sarah Kate Wilson, for example, had perhaps an aesthetic advantage when it came to recognising and capturing beauty, being born, as she was, in the Cayman Islands. She graduated from London's Slade School of Fine Art in 2010. Her specialities include fabric and mixed media stretched over canvas as well as blending acrylic and mixed media.

Glasgow-born Bruce McLean has taught at the Slade School of Fine Art and The Rijkesakademie Van Beldende Kunsten, among others. An artistic chameleon, McLean nowadays focuses his attention on painting, employing wit-laced, subversive parodies of contemporary expressionist styles, and ceramics. This year promises to be an exciting year with two new solo exhibitions: Bruce McLean, firstsite, Colchester, UK and Beyond The Pose, Leeds Art Gallery, Leeds. 

Canada-born Lisa Milroy is currently head of graduate painting at Slade, while still prolific with her own versatile work, whether 3D paintings, portraits or still life. She is probably best known for the latter, depicting everyday objects through lines and patterns. Her pieces will be included in the group exhibition I Cheer A Deadman's Sweetheart, De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea, Sussex, next month.

Rose Davey, Gary Woodley and Claire Dorsett complete the group of artists.

Oh, and the new exhibition's attention-stealing title?

It's derived from a line in Lewis Carroll's novel Alice in Wonderland which celebrates its 150th anniversary next year: “We called him Tortoise / because he taught us.”

Tortoise runs from February 13 to March 15 (open Wednesdays to Fridays, 11am-6pm) and Saturdays (11am-4pm) at the WW Gallery, 34/35 Hatton Garden, Clerkenwell, EC1N 8DX. 

Image Credits

Image one: (from left to right) Claire Dorsett, Yes / No, 2013, acrylic on wood, 10 x 10 cm (each), Rose Davey and Gary Woodley, The First Room of Representation (Sun set Over Homerton), 2014, acrylic and emulsion on wall, acrylic and emulsion on plywood panel, panel 30 x 20 cm, wall painting dimensions variable, Claire Dorsett, Bad Lighting, 2013, acrylic on canvas (on board), 46 x 38 cm.

Image two: Sarah Kate Wilson, Alien, 2014, coloured mirrored acrylic and steel fixtures, 230 x 250 x 50 cm approx and Lisa Milroy, Woodenly, 2008, oil on canvas, 30 x 24 cm. 

Image three: Bruce McLean, A scone in a white interior, 2013, oil on canvas, 225 x 200 cm (Courtesy of Bernard Jacobson Gallery)

Image four: Detail of: Lisa Milroy, Off the Rails, 2011-14, 65 dress-paintings (mixed media, including various fabrics, ribbon, thread, acrylic, oil and spray paint), 65 assorted hangers, 1 mobile clothes rail, 5 nails, gloves, performed painting installation on wall, approx. 140 x 400 cm, individual dress-painting, approx, 110 x 45 cm.

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