Tag Archives: Lines

LINES Feature: Maria Christoforatou

Currently exhibiting at The Strand Gallery is Advertising Exhibitions’ show LINES. Here you can discover the work of Maria Christoforatou, a diverse artist who explores the instability of the notion of home and the psychology of belonging through her sculptures, drawings and collages.

Transforming Environments By Maria Christoforatou

Transforming Environments

Christoforatou’s involvement in the art world was inevitable. Her creativity and interest in different materials emerged at a young age. When chatting to The Strand Gallery she told us:

I understood that I wanted to be an artist at an early age; when I was a kid I remember telling my family that I wanted to be an artist. I was always surrounded by colours and brushes as my father was a contractor for dyes. I love the smell of paint! I remember staying for hours in my father’s studio playing with brushes and patterns. I enjoyed visiting museums with my family and going to exhibitions, something that was always very inspiring and motivating.

Childhood experiences have also significantly inspired the themes and issues Christoforatou addresses in her work. Her portfolio is varied in technique and the mediums she uses, but her conceptual ideas are consistent and focused:

My work examines the emotional effects of displacement in relation to notions of ‘home’ as a place of refuge and departure, and the ways in which art can expose the effects of forced displacement and feelings of fear, pain and loss. My family experienced the loss of a home through two house fires. The burnt smell of fire still haunts me to this day. In both instances, I was overcome by feelings of helplessness, disorientation, a pining for my lost belongings, and a deep sadness. The sense of loss of routine and structure was also devastating. These were my first encounters with physical and psychological displacement and came to shape my subsequent experiences of dislocation as I moved from Greece to the UK, a sense of displacement that echoes (and always will echo) the first sense of the loss of home.


Maria Christoforatou in her studio

In her lofty studio space in London’s Southwark, Christoforatou spends much of her time experimenting with different methods and techniques. As an artist she finds the process of creating her work as important to the finished piece as the aesthetic qualities. This is particularly true of her project Homestead, which consists of a number of intricate collages:

A process of destroying and recreating over and over again is at the core of my practice, which often salvages and reworks remnants, fragments and debris. I manipulate images of, or motifs relating to, the physical construction of houses in order to explore the concept of home as fragile and impermanent. I work regularly at my studio; sometimes even short sessions can be productive and help me keep my creativity alive. 

Pieces from Homestead can be found in the exhibition LINES. These collages again address issues of the home and are a mixture of original and found materials. Christoforatou collects her raw materials from a variety of newspapers and magazines, which she then manipulates through a black and white photocopier and combines with her own photographs and charcoal or pastel sketches. The juxtaposition of the real and fake sparks interesting questions for the viewer regarding reality vs imagination. When asked about her methods, she explains:

Found images were used to enhance a sense of absence. The process of photocopying accentuates the absence of that object and increases a sense of displacement. Destroying and recreating over and over again is at the core of my practice, which often salvages and reworks remnants fragments, and debris. The structures created out of collage are very small in the centre of the page, and requires the viewer to come nearer to the actual work. I intended to show that while the image appears to be a house or a building from afar, once nearer, it is possible to see that these are in fact not real or existing buildings.

Homestead by Maria Christoforatou

Homestead and Homestead II

It is an incredibly exciting and busy time for Christoforatou at the moment. Alongside her art practice, she is also working towards a Ph.D, with her thesis exploring further the way displacement is represented in contemporary art. As well as the group exhibition at The Strand Gallery, she has also just opened her first solo show titled ‘Un-Build’ at Galeria Metamorfose, Portugal. This exhibition features drawings and collages that further explore her favourite subject, home.

LINES can be seen at The Strand Gallery between June 12th and June 15th.


LINES Feature: Joanne Barlow

Currently exhibiting at The Strand Gallery is Advertising Exhibitions’ show LINES. One of the artists featured is Joanne Barlow, an artist who likes to get her hands dirty. Her work uses an intriguing combination of ceramics and photography to explore notions of social structure, culture and identity. Her latest project Domestic/Industrial sees her revisiting familiar locations from her childhood to create site specific sculptures and witty installations.

Domestic Industrial by Joanne Barlow

Domestic Industrial 2012

Barlow’s entry into the art world was kick started by a shock (but not wholly unwelcome) redundancy from her previous role in retail IT. She used the opportunity to follow her creative dreams, enrolling on a Contemporary Applied Arts BA and spending the next two years knee-deep in clay, wood, metal, plastic and textiles.

There has always been creativity in Barlow’s life. Inspired by an old flatmate, she spent many years experimenting with photography and graphic design. Photography continues to play an integral role in her work, both for documenting her installations and as raw materials for use within her sculptures. Barlow’s mix of the printed image and traditional soda fired ceramics developed organically as a combination of the two mediums she most enjoyed working with, but the nature of these materials also add conceptual depth to her projects. She says:

Joanne Barlow

Work in progress for Domestic Industrial

The combination of ceramics and photography creates an interesting dialogue. We are exposed to both mediums on a daily basis; we are familiar with them due to their provenance. This creates a lot of conceptual scope for discourse and viewer engagement within an art-object and installation.

Barlow’s latest project Domestic/Industrial is as much about the where as the what. The project was inspired by her relationships with the small village of Langold and nearby Firbeck Colliery, two areas she remembers fondly from her youth. The work is not just about these places, but was actually made in and around them. Barlow created many of her sculptures in her aunt’s garden shed and living room in Langold, embedding objects such as gravel and stones into the surfaces and finally returning with the finished products for on-site installations.

Joanne Barlow At Work

Joanne Barlow at work: soda firing at the kiln

My processes are concerned with documenting circumstances, so for D/I             I made lots of plaster and clay ‘records’ on-site, took source photographs for design, and eventually contextual photographs of finished pieces back in their source environment. Someone taking photographs of ceramic houses next to piles of rubbish in a disused colliery is not something you come across every day! 

Working out in the open has led to some interesting encounters with the inquisitive general public:

My most memorable encounter was being quizzed by two elderly ladies whilst taking in-situ photos.  I think they initially thought I was really quite mad, taking photographs of bits of ‘pot’ in a scruffy old back-road. When I explained what I was doing, however, they were very interested in it all and went on to tell me some of their histories in the village, some of which were included in other pieces of D/I.

Domestic Industrial by Joanne Barlow

Domestic Industrial 2012

A selection of work from Barlow’s Domestic/Industrial are featuring in the exhibition LINES. Alongside preparing for the exhibition she has also been busy finishing work for her MA:

I am [continuing] to explore the idea of circumstance through material, process and site. I am utilising blindfolded and sighted drawing, plaster work, video, ceramics, projections, moulding, concretes, photography, graphics, and sewing, in order to explore momentary relationships with my surroundings. This body of work is more autoethnographic than D/I, in that it aims to reflect more of my emotions and thought-processes at the time of making.

For more information visit joannebarlow.com.

LINES can be seen at The Strand Gallery between June 12th and June 15th.

Q&A with Advertising Exhibitions’ Jack Smurthwaite

Advertising Exhibitions


Jack Smurthwaite is a founding member of Advertising Exhibitions, a mutually beneficial initiative for aspiring creatives. We spoke to Jack ahead of AE’s exhibition Lines to find out more about the collective and venturing into the world of art promotion:

Tell us a little about yourself and what inspired you to form Advertising Exhibitions?

As students, myself, Hannah James (marketing) and Elliot Draper (design) were not seeing the opportunities we wanted around us so we decided to create them. Advertising Exhibitions is not a business venture; it is a collaborative experience that seeks to give opportunities to those looking for experience in the cultural field. For me personally, it was great to start something from scratch, to say “I want to curate an exhibition” and buck every convention because I didn’t know the conventions to start with.

Dark Days Wood by Leslie Hilling

Dark Days Wood by Leslie Hilling

With your first exhibition Lines coming barely a year after the collective was founded, it seems you have achieved a lot in a short space of time. Have you experienced many challenges along the way and what keeps you motivated?

I don’t know if it is because we are all so determined and unwilling to let the small things diminish our outlook, but the last year has been worryingly painless. The initial online response from artists, designers and creatives to our unknown organisation was outstanding and I think this filled us all with confidence and gave us the momentum to carry on. Working with such an interesting and varied group of artists also means that no two days are the same.

Your debut exhibition features work from 30 artists. How did you discover them and what criteria do you look for when choosing new artists to work with?

All the artists responded to online open calls and from the nearly 1000 submissions, 100 works were chosen on the merit of revealing their inner workings through their final outcomes. The brief we gave ourselves was to get a selection of pieces that could be seen to start in the same place but finish in totally different artistic realms. To re-contextualise the exhibited pieces in this way, I think, makes Lines slightly different in terms of a group exhibition – it is not a themed exhibition in the usual sense because the works do not share one theme – it is an exhibition that will hopefully engage the viewer in creating their own links between the works.

Watermark by Samantha Vince

Watermark by Samantha Vince

Lines had an interesting selection process. How did you find your panel of industry experts and how did the judging process work?

The Selection Panel were great throughout the entire process – three students with no credentials [looking to curate an exhibition] ask you for a favour and what do you say? They said ‘yes’. Ben Street is a great Art Historian who does a lot for contemporary art in London. Lawrence Lek is a designer and I saw his work at the Design Museum in 2012. We definitely wanted panel members from different backgrounds. The selection process involved building bridges before we could cross them, developing survey websites and all sorts. It’s fantastic that everything has come together.

Any profits from this exhibition are to be donated to The Prince’s Foundation for Children and the Arts. Why did you choose to support this charity in particular?

We wanted to donate something to charity – after all, the entire operation is designed to benefit as many people as possible. The things that The Prince’s Foundation do are fantastic. For someone to not discover something they may potentially love is a great shame.

What’s next in store for Advertising Exhibitions? 

One thing at a time! We definitely want to do another exhibition, working so closely with artists has been inspirational. First thing on my mind is…I have a degree to finish!

Lines can be seen at The Strand Gallery between 12th- 15th June.

COMING UP: Advertising Exhibitions presents Lines

The Strand Gallery welcomes Advertising Exhibitions and their debut show Lines, an exhibition showcasing the work of exciting new artistic talents.

Domestic Industrial by Joanne Barlow

The brainchild of a group of university students eager to forge their careers
within the culture sector, Advertising Exhibitions was founded as a
mutually beneficial initiative for aspiring creatives. The non-profit exhibiting body was founded in May 2012 and The Strand Gallery is proud to host their first public exhibition. Lines focuses on the ‘practice and process’ of an idea and aims to reconceptualise artworks by exhibiting them in relation to other works of varying practices, creating new narratives with one another – drawing a line between them.

Mogshot by Isobel Wood
With over 30 artists on show from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines,
the exhibition seeks to honour each and every one, showcasing
photography, sculpture, illustrations, graphic design, fine art, crafts and
installations. All works will be available to buy and, with a commission-free
policy in place, the sales will wholly benefit the artist. All other proceeds
from the exhibition will be donated to The Prince’s Foundation for Children and
the Arts, in support of their ongoing work to engage disadvantaged children with the arts.

Where Nature & Culture Meet III by Jackie Field

Lines can be seen at The Strand Gallery between 12th- 15th June.