2014/15 Fellow:
Laurence Kavanagh

Text by Laurence Kavanagh

I have taken a death mask of a cinema screen, the proportions of which are the current widescreen standard of 1:2.39. Replicating this cinematic total field in sculptural form the death mask, made from paper is acting as a somatic site of production/performance to examine digital and analog modes of perception. The resulting works will examine a liminal point that exists between real and imagined spaces.

Key to the research on my fellowship at BALTIC 39 is the following; examining sculptures relationship to the cinematic window; questioning sculptures need to exist in physical form; the place that manual transformation of materials has in a world of increasing digital material homogeneity.

This new body of work will form part of my on-going project The Calendar Series. The motif of the Gregorian calendar is at once an object, an image and also a marker of time. As a marker of time the calendar is purely representational, it is never able to absolutely indicate a precise moment of the here and now because a slippage of time is inherent to its system. Once every four years is a leap year; time is adjusted to be in the present. This series will eventually consist of twelve inter-related sets of work to represent each of the calendar months.

To date I have realised April and May. The work compresses visual frames of information; the sculptures and collages work as opposites and equals. The collages offer a singular viewpoint of a constructed environment (interiors or landscape), which upon inspection de-compresses, indicating that the overall image is an illusion comprised of sculptural objects I make, residual marks made in the studio from sculptural processes, and sculptures used to create shadow projections. I use the cinematic cut literally, physically cutting my own sculptural objects and in doing so manipulating them towards self-destruction.

The cinematic takes various forms in my work, over time I have found that there are three constants: the parallels between phenomenological perception in film and sculpture; the role of time and symbolism within objects and images; and spacial constructs of interiors and landscapes.

Positioned within this formal structure are trigger points for the viewer: symbols of the sub-conscious (the window, the shattered drinking glass, the fire, the eclipse etc.) often taken from my memory of a turning point in a film. My work investigates the connections we have with these symbols and utilises them as vehicles to explore our relationship to consciousness through material and process. These props, being neither functioning objects nor purely sculptural objects, exist more as an illusion, an outline of a symbol.




21 October 2015 – 13 November 2015
Gallery North, Northumbria University

October is an exhibition that sets out to investigate our evolving relationship to the screen, and its effect on our understanding of both physical and psychic spaces. This new work forms a part of Laurence Kavanagh’s Calendar Series, a larger, on-going body of work.

In his role as the Warwick Stafford Fellow, Kavanagh’s research has centred upon the Star and Shadow Cinema, a co-operative based in Newcastle Upon Tyne. With the cinema’s support Kavanagh has taken “death masks” in paper and graphite from all seven cinema screens, ranging from the full size immersive cinema experience to the domestic home cinema screen, which form the major new body of work presented in October.

The exhibition consists of a number of sculptural works developed from these cinema screen casts to operate between the illusory three-dimensional and two-dimensional spaces of sculpture and the photographic image. The casts were then developed in the artist’s studio in BALTIC 39, with some subsequently brought back into the cinema building and used to form new works that record further objects and textures within the cinema such as packing boxes, projection room doors, cinema signs and the surface of the concrete flooring. The work sets out to re-appraise the importance of touch, both physical and visual, through historical ideas of theatre alongside concepts of the ‘literal’ and the ‘event’ within sculpture.

For Kavanagh, these works question the indexical relationship of photography to subject; the potential of digital photographic technology to increase our physical visual relationship to objects and architecture. The screen, acting as a liminal space between pictorial and object, is used to re-animate the cinema building as an active locus.

Kavanagh is the recipient of the prestigious Warwick Stafford Research Fellowship in partnership with Northumbria University and BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, and the work in October has been made as part of this year-long Fellowship. He previously studied at Newcastle University where he has work displayed at the Hatton Gallery until 20 February 2016.