On Saturday, I set off to picturesque Kent to see the Ed Kluz exhibition at the lovely Mascalls Gallery and hear his talk about his latest work. It was a beautifully crisp, sunny autumnal day – perfect for enjoying some country air! The exhibition was truly unforgettable, and I would love to be able to return again and again.
I’ve admired Ed Kluz’s work since buying his Newby Hall print at Hornseys in Yorkshire years ago and was so excited to see his first solo exhibition. It certainly didn’t disappoint! Let me give you a tour…
Ed’s work often reflects his fascination with architecture and Britain’s heritage of grand country houses, each with its own unique history. His exhibition at the Mascalls Gallery explores those houses which have been ‘lost’ over time- through fire, decay and destruction.
On walking into the small, but inviting gallery, I was struck by the wonderful use of light and colour in all of the artworks. From a distance, they do look like paintings, but coming closer, it is clear that each is a collage, painstakingly put together and giving an amazing 3D effect which seems to bring the house to life again. As Ed said in his talk, these collages have an air of theatricality to them: they could be stage sets, dazzlingly lit for that moment just before the actors appear on stage. In gazing at the images, it’s true that you have a sense of waiting for something to happen: you want the door to open, offering a glimpse of the bustling life that once went on inside these astonishing buildings and of their (often) highly eccentric owners. In creating only the house, in the midst of a bare, neutral landscape, Kluz adds to the poignancy of the realisation that these buildings no longer exist: they can no longer be explored, and it is up to our imaginations and the snippets of history left to us to imagine how life was once lived between their walls.
It was wonderful to hear Ed talk about his work and some of the fascinating history behind each of the houses he discovered through his meticulous and extensive research. Kluz also spoke of his own childhood and his development as an artist. He referenced artists such as Edward Bawden, Eric Ravilious and John Piper as inspiration for his work, and I think you can clearly see their influence. I was thrilled I got to chat with him at the end, as well!
The works currently exhibiting at the gallery are all for sale, but sadly at over £3,000 they are rather out of my price range! I’m planning on saving up though….one day, I’d love to own an original Ed Kluz! In the meantime, I’m still cherishing my print and cushion covers (now on sale!). Also, it seems there are some more affordable treats in store for the near future: Ed is currently working on a book of this exhibition in conjunction with Little Toller Books and is producing a series of lithographs with Curwen Press to illustrate a collection of Rupert Brooke’s poetry by the Folio Society (catch a glimpse of this work in this fascinating interview with Ben Pentreath). I cannot wait to be able to buy both these books!
I must also mention the lovely curator of Mascalls Gallery, Rebecca Hone, who did a brilliant job hosting the talk with Ed Kluz and very kindly chatted to me at the end about the gallery and forthcoming exhibitions.
There are some lovely sounding exhibitions and events coming up at the gallery, including a show of Peter Green’s work, which would be fascinating to see. I feel this is such an exciting time for British printmaking, with wonderful work available from artists such as Ed Kluz, Emily Sutton, Mark Hearld, Angie Lewin and Jonny Hannah, to name but a few, and it’s wonderful to find galleries around the country celebrating this revival. I shall certainly be returning to the Mascalls Gallery soon and definitely recommend a trip to see the current exhibition. Surrounded by charming pubs (The Poet and The Wheelwrights Arms deserve special mention – I had the best sausage and mash I’ve had in a while at the latter and the former was highly recommended for next time) and beautiful countryside, a visit to this part of Kent makes a fabulous day out of London!