Staff News: Sarah Hughes at South London Gallery

To coincide with Heritage Open Days 2015, Sarah Hughes, Visual Arts Lecturer and Research Assistant at West Dean College,  developed a series of works relating to the early history of the South London Gallery (SLG) and its proposed impact on the local community. Working from historical material found in Southwark Local History Library and Archive, Hughes presented an installation in the entrance of the Gallery featuring a selection of prints and other small-scale works inspired by early features of the gallery building.

Looking specifically at documents that refer to the SLG’s opening at its current location on Peckham Road in 1891, Hughes draws on the socio-political aspirations of the Gallery founders and considers how its founding principles can be understood today.

Featured in a vitrine in the entrance corridor, the referenced archival material includeed reports of public meetings and fundraising events, as well as transcribed lectures by leading proponent of the SLG; William Rossiter. Hughes works directly from these documents to present a series of prints, taking existing phrases from a number of different sources in order to re-appropriate them as slogans that resonate with more contemporary concerns, not only in the field of art but also in the context of political and economic pressures.

For the installation at the SLG these prints were presented together with other small-scale works inspired by early features of the building, including ceramic tiles found in the corridor laid during an extension between 1896 and 1898, and the gallery’s original marquetry floor.

These images show the making of a small marquetry panel. The text is taken from a transcription of a public meeting at SLG in 1891 and highlights the audience response and support for a gallery that was founded to encourage the local working classes to visit the exhibitions and associated events.

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Hughes had the expert support and advice from Furniture Making and Conservation Tutor, Norbert Gutowski. Other works in the display included ceramics made during the pit-firing project, led by Alison Sanderman, at West Dean College in 2015.

Sarah Hughes is currently on a 12-month Embedded residency at the SLG in partnership with Sound and Music.


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