William Cobbing: Transactions of the Duddo Field Club
Hatton Gallery, Newcastle
21 March - 17 May 2014
‘From the press release’
As Lipman artist in residence at Newcastle University, William Cobbing has taken the Northumberland landscape as a starting point to develop ceramic sculptures and video works, in which a haptic process of making is contrasted to an overload of textual information.
Imagined local folklore is explored in a video that documents the pit firing of a bell created by a clay-covered figure, in which body and ground seemingly become merged in an absurd act of creation. The evocation of a malevolent presence lurking below the surface of village life echoes that of the1970’s children’s TV series ‘Children of the Stones’ in which an astrophysicist and his son attempt to decipher occult mysteries. Further exhibited works include monolithic-looking sculptures that derive their surface appearance from the eroded contours of the anthropomorphic Duddo Five Stones. These works are formed through pressing rocks into heavily grogged clay, with a random selection of books slotted into their surfaces, resulting in monuments to inaccessible knowledge and trivia.
The installation is completed by a series of sculptures based on retrograde images of ancient rock formations on book covers, such as Paul Nash’s surrealist ‘Shell County Guide’, made by imprinting letterpress blocks into malleable clay surfaces. Words appear and are then distorted or erased through the act of continually reworking the surface. Language becomes a tactile experience.