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Conversations with the Past Exhibition
Gallery 49

The exhibition featured original prints and paintings by Penny and ceramics by Ilona Sulikova. There was also some collaborative work which was very interesting.

Penny believes the history of art can be seen as the history of human thought and that it is important to continue to refer to, engage and play with cultural heritage.

‘I was lucky enough to be educated in the English art school system which encouraged the heuristic approach to playful discovery’ 
‘Printmaking has been a natural progression from painting – the process allowing for a visually direct simplification of image’
‘Gombrich after all said we can say what we like about history – we don’t know, we weren’t there – and that’s the motive for my work’

Ilona makes large, full-bodied vessels and decorates them with intricate patterns that repeat, expand and contract as they travel around the form. 

‘I enjoy the contemplative process of hand building pots which balance on a narrow base. I decorate them with geometric patterns in order to create tension, rhythm and movement. The final Raku firing aims to achieve a fusion between pattern and form.
‘art is intrinsic to human beings – it’s part of us, we can’t help it – and abstraction has been with us from the very beginning’.


1 A statement regarding subject matter (Penny)

The source material for my works in this exhibition is acknowledged either in the title or in supplementary notes – for example ‘Cabinet of Curiosity’ from the Plaster frieze at Burton Constable, the museum at Burnby Hall in ‘The Major’s Museum’, all those ‘Cats’ from Stillingfleet Church and the carvings at Beverley Minster in ‘Minster Minstrels’ – but many works including the collaborative ceramic work and long woodcuts have their base in the Romanesque carvings from Kilpeck Church.
Kilpeck is a small village on the Welsh border where the Normans built a castle and a church near the Pagan settlement. This church is famous for its Romanesque carvings both around the church building and surrounding the main entrance. A feast for the eye and several sketchbooks later the characters developed into ‘edited highlights’ where a whole group find themselves mixed together (almost having a party) in ‘Romanesque Dream’ or looking at each other suggestive of a conversation in ‘Kilpeck Surprise’ and ‘He’s Behind Me Isn’t He?’.


Only the slightest alteration creates new meaning, for example adjusting the gaze or moving characters together would just start up a conversation.


And in a strange way as these things just happen, my printmaking has now led me back to painting (a selection included in this exhibition) – what fun!

2 A statement re the collaborative elements of the ceramics and the long woodcuts
‘I have long admired the ceramics of Ilona Sulikova and was delighted to collaborate with her in this exhibition. We worked together on both ceramics and woodcuts -  Ilona designed the zigzags and I manipulated the Kilpeck critters – both subjects evolving from our love of Norman carving and architecture. These designs were used together in the two long woodcuts ‘Kilpeck Dream 1 and 2’ and all the character ceramics. Oh I just love them all!’ 


‘I found myself revisiting my ‘ceramic roots’ in Africa and Greece to explore shapes that might suggest characters. We are both really excited by these results and plan more in the future – can’t wait!’

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