Inscription: The Almshouse Tempera Project – press release


Exhibition Title; Inscription: The Almshouse Tempera Project.
Venue: Bonington Gallery, Atrium Spacey, Nottingham Trent University, Bonington building, Dryden Street, Nottingham, NG1 4GG. UK
Dates: 19th September to 23rd October 2015. Private View; 1st October, 5pm – 7.30pm
The gallery is open Monday to Friday 10am to 5pm but it will also be open on Saturday 19th September and Saturday 17th October, 10am-3pm.
Artists: Derek Hampson, Deborah Harty, Atsuhide Ito, Peter Suchin
Further Information; contact project co-ordinator Derek Hampson Bonington Gallery


Background to the Exhibition
This exhibition has emerged from The Almshouse Tempera Project, an artistic endeavour that focuses on forgotten forms, in particular the almshouse, the earliest form of social housing, as well as the equally early painting technique of egg tempera.

Predating the Welfare State, almshouses are a charitable form of accommodation funded by philanthropists to give shelter to those in pressing need. Their role as a significant, hidden yet relatively common form of housing is rarely acknowledged in key discussions of housing provision; nor is their often-elaborate design recognised by the architectural profession. Similarly, egg tempera is a largely forgotten painting medium. Most frequently associated with Medieval illuminated manuscripts, this historically significant process is rarely used today. The exhibition aims to act as a timely reminder of both this unusual type of housing provision and this similarly “invisible”, yet resilient and efficacious painting medium.

Inscription: The Almshouse Tempera Project displays works made by the four artists involved in the project, Derek Hampson, Deborah Harty, Atsuhide Ito and Peter Suchin. It takes its name from the carved inscriptions placed as a matter of course on almshouse exteriors to record the names of the donors whose generosity made the very existence of these dwellings possible. The show partly attempts to echo this physical marking, tracing and “drawing in” by inscribing within the gallery not only painted representations of almshouses, but also a number of their actual material components reclaimed from Nottingham’s Lambley Almshouse during its recent renovation by Nottingham Community Housing Association. These include a window, a door, primitive elements of plumbing, and considerable portions of the building’s floor (sometimes incorporated into artworks or employed as a surface upon which to paint).

Derek Hampson explores the colouristic potential of the medium in two different ways, using a “painterly” layering process to produce a series of works focusing upon exterior views of almshouses, and a denser application of tempera to create a number of poster-like works involving the juxtaposition of image and text.

Deborah Harty has contributed a large-scale multi-part drawing inspired by a partially open door at the William Woodsend Memorial Homes on Derby Road, Nottingham. The piece considers, through the medium of egg tempera, the concept of thresholds: between inside and out, the public and the private, the drawn and the painted.

Following a period of extensive historical research, Atsuhide Ito has depicted scenes in the life of an imaginary but ‘typical’ resident of a pre-21st century almshouse, “Elizabeth Cotton”. His work considers notions of the precarious and the impoverished, as well as the contemporary use of an apparently out-of-date medium.

Peter Suchin has contributed a number of pieces in which the privileging of a solitary medium is practically refuted, combining tempera with acrylic, bitumen, coffee, collage, ink and other materials to produce semi-abstract works which act as analogies of the almshouse as dwellings and historical forms.

Alongside the making of work for this exhibition the Project has organised a series of theoretical discussions and public talks on themes such as the role of the medium in contemporary art, the phenomenology of seeing, and aspects of historical representation. These issues are considered in a forthcoming publication, which will also document the present show. For further information sign up to follow this website on the homepage.

Project initiated by Derek Hampson; exhibition curated by Derek Hampson and Peter Suchin.

Two of the many artworks that will be in the exhibition (click on images for larger versions)

"Emma Birts Day", egg tempera on board, 28 x 37 cms, artist Derek Hampson

“Emma Birts Day”, egg tempera on board, 28 x 37 cms, artist Derek Hampson

"Emma Birts Night", egg tempera on board, 28 x 37 cms, artist Derek Hampson

“Emma Birts Night”, egg tempera on board, 28 x 37 cms, artist Derek Hampson

The exhibition is co-curated by Derek Hampson and Peter Suchin.