Art Exhibition: Repeat, Repeat, Freelands Foundation

Joseph Cartwright Starlight Cafe courtesy of the artist

Joseph Cartwright Starlight Cafe courtesy of the artist - Credit: Archant

A display of artists’ repetitive tasks at Elisabeth Murdoch’s art foundation includes a scooter laden with rubber bands and a knotted reel of cotton

Peter Dreher, _Tag Um Tag Guter Tag. No. 2642_, Courtesy DACs

Peter Dreher, _Tag Um Tag Guter Tag. No. 2642_, Courtesy DACs - Credit: Archant

How do artists make work and what do they do each day? are two questions posed by an exhibition at The Freelands Foundation.

Set up by Elisabeth Murdoch to support artists and encourage especially young people to enjoy art, the Chalk Farm Foundation’s show Repeat Repeat explores ideas of daily routine for artists.

Curator Henry Ward hopes the photography, painting and sculpture by seven artists showing the repetitive tasks in their daily lives, will inspire visiting schoolchildren as a starting point for their own work.

Susan Hiller’s “10 Months” (1977) features daily photographs of her belly during pregnancy. Andee Collard obsessively drew the same ball of string every day for four years while working as a full time art teacher. Nicky Britton Field has tied a single knot in a reel of cotton every day for six years, and Ben Borthwick takes daily photographs out of his daughter’s window each morning when he wakes her up.

Simon Wells and William Swift Wells, picture courtesy of the artists

Simon Wells and William Swift Wells, picture courtesy of the artists - Credit: Archant

Simon Wells and his nine year old son William collect items on their daily walks together and created a sculpture out of elastic bands. While Joseph Cartwright, who balances being a father of three with being the head of art at a London secondary school, photographs the condiments in their local East London cafe.

German artist Peter Dreher 84, shows work from Tag um Tag guter Tag (Day by Day good Day) depicting the same empty water glass in his studio since 1974.

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Ward who is the Foundation’s creative director, says all the artists are grappling with maintaining daily practice in the face of other jobs and domesticity. Their pieces reveal the underlying profundity of routine and how deceptively simple or pointless tasks can take on “a meaning that transcends the action itself.”

“Increasingly artists have other commitments; teaching, domestic, and parenting which have made it difficult to continue as artists. By setting themselves routines, timetables and rules they are able to maintain a practice. The majority of works speak about the relationship between artists and their parenting responsibility.”

Repeating, or reworking an idea or motif like Dreher can be the core of some artists’ practice.

“By sticking to the same motif and repeating it 5,000 times for 45 years, half at night, half in the day with subtle differences in light he has made incredibly beautiful paintings. Each the same, but completely different.”

Funded by media executive Murdoch, Freelands Foundation was set up in 2015 to support artists and art education and moved into its base in Regent’s Park Road in February 2018. It holds exhibitions, funds awards for underexposed or emerging artists, hands out grants to art organisations and helps train art teachers or run projects such as one with artist Ruth Proctor at Acland Burghley School.

“Our broad mission statement is that everyone should have access to art. Liz has always had a huge interest in the arts as a collector. And with four children has an interest in art education.

“Part of what we do is seeing where the arts fit or don’t fit in this country’s education system and where there are gaps and opportunities in arts funding.”

Repeat Repeat is free and runs at Freelands Foundation, 113 Regent’s Park Road, January 24 – March 2.