The exhibition consists of several wall-like works that are arranged to make temporary rooms within the gallery. The walls are created by reusing old paintings in various states: primed and painted, dyed, cropped and quilted back together again, pulped and pressed into rag paper.
They have a more deliberate ‘front’ and a more accidental ‘back’, each playing a role in two different spaces. They hold smaller paintings, embedded and framed, a process that has involved sifting, sorting and reactivating a decade of old work.
Sanderson said: “The ‘fronts’ are where most of my energy goes. Top-stitched and carefully placed blocks of colour fall into pattern, often punctuated by smaller paintings. Paintings have gone back to their material nature. The selected ones are pruned and arranged within their borders, walls of collaged thought.
“The ‘backs’ are the closest I have got to a fully improvised way of working; they surprise me every time. It’s like crawling through a hedge. They hold all the waste subconscious thoughts. They are the bits I don’t want to see or the bits I don’t know what to do with. Often the fronts are trying to clear space in my mind or create less in the room, but the backs aren’t planned for. The blank areas on the front are often found on the backs of old paintings. It’s getting a bit confusing now, as the fronts are often made from old backs and the backs are made from old fronts.”
Sanderson has had a studio at CAST (Helston) since 2013 and has been closely involved with the development of the organisation from the start, as well as contributing to CAST’s ongoing programme of public events. In the past few years, he has worked with Pool School Gallery, CAST-Off and many other independent projects including work with dementia patients and young people. He was artist in residence at Trebah Garden from 2018 until 2021, where he investigated the garden’s edge while experiencing the seasonal change. In 2021, he was commissioned by Hospital Rooms to make a new work for Bethlam Mother and Baby unit, London and in 2023, for Cove Ward, Redruth.
Sanderson said: “The opportunity to make a solo exhibition with MIRROR has been a transformative time. Using the facilities at Arts University Plymouth has allowed me to work with Fiona Lloyd, Technical Demonstrator in the Fabric Lab, to deepen my understanding of natural dye processes. I have developed new skills, learning how to steam bend bamboo to create supports that curve in the room, while the mentoring has pushed me to reflect and write about the work. Exhibiting as part of the South West Showcase, an established and respected art platform, has been a catalyst for future projects and a generative experience.”
Ben Sanderson is one of two artists selected for the South West Showcase (SWS) 2024. SWS is a recurring open call platform, established in 2013, showcasing artists from across the South West region. The showcase aims to support artists working and living in the South West through a year-long programme of mentoring and support with an exhibition outcome; presenting a long-term commitment to profiling and supporting the practices of artists in this region.
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