The British Countryside in Pictures 2011
17th Nov - 22nd Dec 2011
This new body of work by Abigail Reynolds is a series of assemblages that combine objects and images, books, glass and metal. The exhibition title alludes to the genteel illustrated publications from which some of the source material is taken, but the countryside pictured also extends to include modernist architecture of the fifties, festival culture of the seventies, protests at Greenham Common in the eighties and rave culture in the nineties.
As well as showing individual pages, Reynolds has collaged entire books together within works. Here, she uses the meaning of the whole book, deploying it both structurally and symbolically, allowing it to represent its own historical moment. In some cases multiple bookplates are rebound into another volume, and several works involve glass to crop or alter an image. Although many of the images picture a key historical moment, the works also ask the viewer to direct their attention to the modes of printing and layout, as these formal decisions carry their own freight of cultural meaning and belonging.
The imagery and publications used in this body of work focuses on various idealized or nostalgic notions of Britain, produced by very different agendas and ideologies. By grouping together several attempts at a British arcadia, the impression is given of a continuous, integrated striving, though Reynolds perhaps hints that their greatest commonality is a certain degree of failure.
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