Severed, The Deracinater and The Isle, Simon Woolham
Since graduating from Chelsea College of Art with an MA in 2000, Woolham has had shows and residencies both nationally and internationally. His first solo show was at the Hoxton Distillery Gallery in London at the end of 2000. This was followed by numerous group shows including Becks Futures student prize at the ICA, Pizza Express drawing prize, Oriel Mostyn 11, where he was the prize winner in 2001, and other group shows in Belfast, Düsseldorf, Berlin and Madrid. Since then he has had solo shows at The Lowry Gallery, which was also part of a commission and residency and Floating IP Gallery in Manchester, he was also in the 2005 emergency 05 at Aspex Gallery, Portsmouth and Perspectives 05 in Belfast.
During 2006 Woolham completed a BALTIC/Creative Partnerships residency. This was followed by a residency at the National Glass Centre and was also commissioned for a Per Cent for Art residency/public art project in Ireland. In 2007 as well as having numerous group shows including Paper Cuts a touring show curated by Yasmin Canvin, Woolham was The Museum of Garden History Artist in Residence, curated by Danielle Arnaud and funded by Arts Council England, culminating in a show and publication. Also in 2007 he had solo shows at BLOC space in Sheffield and Leicester City Art Gallery. For 2008, he was commissioned by Animate Projects and RSA Arts and Ecology, and made a new site specific work for a project with Danielle Arnaud for the Tatton Park Biennial.
My work is concerned primarily with occupied spaces and the narratives that unfold in them. My drawings of school playing fields, junked underpasses and the like often contain text with the tone of dialogue. Through these glimpses of speech the dilapidated environments come to life in a cheap version of enchantment: a tree stump or a broken fence are filled with the meanings of the events that go on around and about them.
In my attempts to unearth this unpredictable and fragile process of memory, I use ballpoint pen drawings, models, animation, video and text. More recently I have made a series of models, films and animations and text that focus on recurring motives that often feature in the work: ditches, unofficial dumps and breached security fences. The films bring to life a series of landscapes that are digitally manipulated, coloured and made to move.
Before each scene a title screen announces a name for the landscape, outdoor scenes are then modified to show some minor action in repetitive motion. These subtle movements, such as a falling roof or clicking fence, humorously draw attention to the miniscule, the enhanced sound of each action dramatizing life’s kinetic force.
The work is unassuming, often made from simple materials and with seemingly modest aspirations. It is their quotidian qualities, however, that charges them with emotion, not that those emotions are easy to identify. It is not that these works are personal or autobiographical that obscures their emotional content, it is the fact that they are irreducibly, irrevocably unsettling. These sites are the scenes of humiliation as well as innocent play, of rejection and failure as well as fantasy and adventure. They are as sweet as other people’s children and as deadly as your own worst memories.