If you’re out and about in the Thornton area at the weekend and wondering what to do, you can’t go wrong with a visit to Marsh Mill. As well as the permanent features, cafes, pubs, and quaint little craft and food shops, there are year round exhibitions in the Kiln House Gallery, and these are free to visit.
The current exhibition by Mark Hetherington, Expressions and Impressions, is described by the artist as ‘A range of personal drawings and illustrations exploring a dialogue with materials and subjects, with simplicity of line’. The words ‘expression’ and ‘personal’ seem particularly appropriate for a collection which has a real sense of quiet and solitude about it. The deceptively simple life-drawings exude confidence and are carefully observed. There is a sense of deep introspection to the male figures, ‘Too Much’, ‘What’s the Point?’ and the playful ‘Spaff!’. A pair of nudes in soft pencil lines, male and female, mirror each other across the wall, holding their legs up in a protective posture.
With this collection, Hetherington shows his professional illustrative technique in the fantastical ‘Lord and Lady Sun God and Moon Goddess’ as well as the beautifully rendered hedgehogs in ‘Trapped!’ and ‘Hedgehog Hospital’. The lines are clean and the details spare enough to suggest character and background without ever over-powering the scenes. The characters are bold in a pair of martial art-inspired pieces which sit alongside a re-imagining of a Manga character. Once again, we are reminded that this work would not look out of place in a graphic novel or children’s book. The confidence of the work speaks to the greats of the genre, think Mike Dringenberg for Sandman or the classic style of Flash Gordon illustrator, Alex Raymond.
‘It’s a New Age’ shows a respect for traditional illustration, with clever use of dots and lines to create movement in the style of an etched image, and ‘Dreaming’ is a highlight in the exhibition; a complex narrative piece along the lines of a Lynd Ward woodcut with symbolism and insignia interwoven to create a sublime dreamscape.
Considered as a whole, the exhibition is an excellent vehicle for Hetherington’s talent. The mood shifts as you move around the walls and there is a lot of content squeezed into a small space. Personally, I’d like his next exhibition to contain a complete narrative arc, but perhaps that would be better suited to a graphic novel or illustrated book.
Expressions and Impressions is on at the Kiln House Gallery until 27 July, weekends only, and is curated by Ann Charlesworth. See the website for more information.
All images courtesy of Mark Hetherington.
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