National Gallery 1974/2000, 2012
Abigail Reynolds scours flea markets and old bookstores to find material that she then repurposes for artworks. She collects old books and photographs from atlases, tourist guides and encyclopedias, many of which feature rural English landscapes, and turns the material into three-dimensional collages. In doing so, Reynolds questions the way in which our relationship to the visual world, and particularly the British landscape, is mediated and understood through a populist lens. Untitled M1 (Brimham Rocks) is a large-scale ink on silk screen work that makes use of a found image, likely taken by or for a tourist. The image is of the balancing rocks of Brimham. The rocks seem to hover above a young boy shown looking up at them. A tiny plinth holds the natural sculpture aloft, creating a palpable sense of tension. Looming blue blobs seem to build up and tumble down the right hand side of the work. Reynolds’ transformation of otherwise banal documentary photographs is one that results in a sublime vision. The often-photographed tourist destination that is depicted is made alien by the ink forms that subsume and transform it; it is barely recognisable as the formation that it truly is. In National Gallery 1974/2000 the artist juxtaposes a photograph of the British National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, London with an image from an iconic CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) protest on the same site but at a different time. The institution interspersed with a scene of an anti-establishment group - highlights the question of public space, the tension of different ideals against the backdrop imperialism of the building.