With Particular Attention: Martha Winter’s material occurrences
by Mark Leahy
(Excerpt from the Market Project book- find out how to buy it and read all the commissioned texts in full here.)
Martha Winter’s works are a presentation of the outcome of process, a showing of the results of selection, sorting, and layering. There is evidence of the repetition of gesture, the building up of surface and texture, the ordering of elements and the consideration of relationships between them. These are works of order and interval, of light and of time. The showing and the evidence is present as story, as a history of the work’s making. The work prompts in the viewer the question, “how was it done?”, and a narrative is there to be read back. The viewer reads the evidence, and may gain an understanding of the process, so knowing how the work has come together in this physical material form. Or, they may not identify what has occurred but know that something has taken place.
In some recent works, raised and complex surfaces are built up through slow and precise processes. Using sands of different textures, grains and fineness, suspended in a liquid medium, Winter lays threads and ripples of material on the ground. These blobs and curls settle into patterns, nudging into each other, slumping into smoother forms. Over this base further layers are worked, pigment and coloured sand is dusted or sieved to build up shades and tones. Winter’s work sits between drawing, sculpture, and painting. It incorporates aspects of each, and operates with common concerns of art across disciplines – ground, space, light, scale and order. The artworks are present in space with the viewer, they have bulk, dimension and weight. Their presence results from their articulation of light, their parcelling of time, their ordering of dimensions beyond the modelled surface.
Winter introduces her patterns by attaching found matter to the surface, by interrupting the ground with specific materials. These materials have a history, they refer beyond the work and carry associations. Some are gathered by the artist from the landscape, from the shore, from the beach, from the edges of the
country in East Anglia or Cornwall. The pebbles and sands, siftings of soil, earth and mineral pigments incorporate their places of origin onto the work. Another story, one of travel, of extension and distribution, a narrative of dispersal is folded into the story of the work.
Mark Leahy is a writer, artist and curator operating among textual practices, performance and visual arts. Recent publications include essays in Performance Research and The Journal of Writing in Creative Practice; a chapter in The Blackwell Companion to Digital Literary Studies (2007); and an essay on John James and the visual arts in The Salt Companion to John James (2010). Curated projects include Public Pages for the conference Poetry and Public Language, (2007). Swatches, a poetry sequence was published by Acts of Language (December 2009), and texts have appeared in UK and US journals. Live work includes Voice Recognition at Chapter and Verse Festival, (2011) and Performance Market, (2010). He was Director of Writing at Dartington College of Arts (2005-2007), and subsequently MA Programme Leader at Dartington Campus, University College Falmouth (2007-2010). He teaches part-time and supervises PhD students at University College Falmouth, and works freelance as an arts project manager.