Hannah Brown: Before Long

25/05/2019 - 29/06/2019


OPENING: FRIDAY, MAY 24th, 6-9pm

Union Gallery is pleased to present Before Long, a new body of work by artist Hannah Brown, curated by William Gustafsson.

Hannah Brown’s work delves into the psychology of the English landscape, questioning the status of landscape painting, the use and value of bucolic imagery, and how one brings motifs from the natural environment into the domestic sphere. Brown seeks out less-celebrated views such as the corners of fields, small clearings, and hedgerows, challenging the vistas that we are often drawn to. Her view is a carefully edited one, giving the audience a perspective from outside the lexicon of the traditional picturesque.

Presenting large paintings in our main gallery space, Brown continues her Hedge series, which began in 2017, depicting closely cropped frontal views of hedgerows, banks and small areas of woodland. Brown describes finding herself staring into the dark recesses, absorbed by the patterns that form in the nettles and brambles and seeing similarities to Liberty and William Morris prints in the tangle of foliage. The locations of these paintings are mixed; the two landscape format works are Hampstead Heath and Mid Devon and the portrait format work is a made from a combination of these two images. This is both the first time Brown has painted in portrait format and the first time she has made a work that is such a fabricated view.

The exhibition continues in our showroom gallery where Brown’s paintings depict the River Lea in East London, near to her home. The series stems from Brown’s experience of walking day after day along the river and around the marshes. In these pockets of quiet and beauty, where the sound of the A12 can’t be heard or industrial buildings can’t be seen, Brown found views that fulfilled her desire for solitude and a type of scenery familiar from growing up in rural Devon. Bridging the gap between land and water, Brown has created sculptures based on the rope work and fenders of narrow boats, of which there are many along the canal and the River Lea navigation. Brown domesticates the fender from robust functional objects to beautifully knotted satin tassels hinting to the interior. These sculptures are a link to the paintings through Brown’s interest in our relationship to nature, the human desire to bring the outside in, but in so doing, altering it and making it something other.