Angela Eames/article

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Michael Benson article on Angela Eames

published in surfacing catalogue (Candlestar publications) April, 2008

Rock Steady…the pleasing geometries of Angela Eames

‘The line the God throws down to you and me Makes a pleasing geometry’
Nick Cave, Abattoir Blues

It is in the movement. In each slow, careful, plotted movement. Born perhaps of a childhood spent ricocheting between Britain and Bahrain. Angela the artist is always on the move. There’s care in each and every step she takes. A fastidious picking away at the fabric of things. She is always on the move, always asking. Hers is no shamanic dance nor the shape shifting, persona swapping in which her long time heroes, Dylan and Nick Cave, indulge. As you’d expect from someone who has the distinction of being the first person to complete a PhD via her creative practice, Angela’s moves are imbued with the spirit of enquiry. She needs to see how things work and so she circles them slowly, cogging as she goes. In former times you suspect that she’d have been there at the shoulder of Robert Hooke and his colleagues as they went about dissecting, drawing and endlessly inquiring into the nature of things. She’d have drawn a line, though, at their barbarous treatment of animals. She is fond of dogs. Fonder still of the drawing of lines. ‘Drawing is the priority’ she declares. This is where it starts. Where it leads, is to conjuring of the illusion of space and within that the illusion, the illusion of movement. Nowhere is this clearer than in her recent Veil series (for Angela, an artist with the neatest studio on the planet, there’s always a series) where beautiful images of rippling or billowing fabric are built as wireframe drawings in 3D space.

Her concern is, as she says, with the spit rather than the polish. And like Hooke she is fascinated too by the dissonant geometries of the natural world. ‘Daisies always have five petals’, she says ‘until they don’t.’ Clouds may not be spheres, mountains are not cones but the fractal geometry of the natural world will bring them to its own kind of order - eventually. Watching chaotic details resolve themselves into a kind of order is part of what she’s up to…

‘Slippage, spillage, accident, smudge, or the bits one might expect to have to deal with, possibly to exclude when working with other media, those bits one has not yet noticed, but might with further consideration acknowledge as integral to the drawing or doing. This is what I’m after.’

It’s not just the natural world either. ‘Have you noticed that the number of spokes in a wheel is always odd?’ Of course not. Who would? Angela would because this is exactly the kind of detail that drives her. She has an almost obsessive curiosity that would have given Pandora herself a run for her money. A link she has already made ‘Pandora was the first woman—conjured up by the gods as revenge upon man, for obtaining fire from Prometheus…the gods gave Pandora a box which she, despite being warned not to, opened...As a result she released all the ills that beset mankind, except that is, for hope which remained in the box... poor old Pandora remains the villain of the story all due to her insatiable curiosity.’ Poor old Pandora indeed.

Be not deceived, there’s nothing of the victim about Angela Eames. When it really matters Angela is in complete control. And when it really matters is when she begins the making of lines that she weaves into pattern and form. Her words on samplers offer a clue to the work ‘Horizontal threads of pure colour when woven through vertical threads would intersperse, generating squares or rectangles of either pure or mixed colour. The fabric was constructed and that very fabric was the pattern. The structure determined the overall colouring. The pattern was in the grid.’ The fabric was the pattern. How many times does that thought skitter across the synapses as we survey the surface, layer, texture of her drawn objects and the space they occupy?

There’s a certainty and determination about Angela’s artistic journey. Speaking about her use of technology, with which she has been working these past twenty years, she says ‘The electronic realm is just another step along the path of curiosity and invention - but it is a step, which might allow us to engage with other aspects of space and time.’

She exhibits prodigiously and teaches too. At the once lovely Camberwell College of Art where the graffiti once said ‘Angela rocks!’ She does indeed. Slowly. Steadily. Owl-eyed. Watching the cadences and rhythms of the world and the still lives of objects. Things resolve themselves into patterns and those patterns are replayed with careful deliberation until they end up as the very warp and weft of her work.

(Angela Eames will be showing her new work in an exhibition entitled surfacing, at the Total Arts Gallery in Dubai, April 2008)

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