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FIGURE
Suffolk ACRE Art Exhibtion
by Erica Woodman

When I found out that the theme of the latest exhibition at Suffolk ACRE is 'Figure' I wondered if there is still a place for, and sufficient interest in, such a subject in contemporary art.

Well, there may not be in trendy art schools and on the London scene, but there is in Suffolk. Freelance member Daniel Rounding has assembled works from 19 local artists that embrace a huge variety of approaches and methods. You will find everything here from conventional life drawings in charcoal to huge dark paintings that go inside the body and depict physical processes (Pam Wimbolt, in the Training Room).

Freelance member and recent Fine Art graduate Annabel Mednick's contribution, 'Prospero and Caliban' stands out in the ground floor communal area; it is typically subtle, magical even and impresses with its sheer technical facility. Christine Sedgwick's 'Pool with Three Figures' has a much more mundane subject - a man and two children in a swimming pool - but pleases with both its composition and execution.

A special mention must go to our own Borin van Loon, moving force behind Freelance. He has contributed seven works, in wildly different media from digital illustration to oil on board. Borin has recently illustrated a book on Critical Theory, and has made such figures as de Saussure, Derrida and Althusser his subjects. (This reviewer, a Cultural Studies graduate, is pleased to see he was so inspired by them - her own reaction tended to be a 'Yes, but...' said through clenched teeth). Nice one, Borin!

In the ground floor corridor, there is an extraordinary pencil drawing by Lee Fisk, a picture of an old woman surrounded by children. It is a large work, drawn with all the precision of an Escher, the figures with a hint of the grotesque. It evokes all sorts of associations: is this a Jewish family on their way to a concentration camp? Are they asylum seekers from Eastern Europe? The picture is untitled; a haunting and impressive work.

By contrast, the boardroom houses a series of pictures of footballers by Cynthia Howell. She has created an interesting contrast between the hardness of the subject and the relative softness of the medium - spray paint - and has captured the dynamism of the figures as in a snapshot. At least one of these paintings inclines towards cubism.

There is more work upstairs, including a rather sombre Piet by Delia Tournay-Godfrey in the Chief Executive's office, and a portrait in vibrant watercolour dyes by 'our' Borin.

This is the third exhibition Daniel has curated at Suffolk ACRE, and I think it is the best yet. There are just three pictures that are, in my opinion, too amateurish to deserve inclusion here. Two of these I consider to be crass as well (Question: is cultural appropriation okay if the appropriated culture is distant, has few surviving practitioners, and has became trendy among New Age types? Would it be acceptable for a white Suffolk woman to exhibit paintings full of, say, Muslim symbology? Discuss..) (Sorry, but I feel strongly about this). Well, that's just three pictures I question out of a total of 48, so go and see for yourself - I cannot do justice in a review to all the works on display here.

--Erica Woodman

The FIGURE exhibition is at the Suffolk ACRE main offices in Wharfedale Road, off Norwich Road in Ipswich. The exhibition runs until 7 November.


Waiting by Annabel Mednick


Francisco Goya y Lucientes by Borin Van Loon

Images here are reproduced with the artists permission.