I’ve been to York many times before and enjoyed gasping at the imperial sights of the Minster and crumbled Abbey ruins in the museum gardens, ducking and weaving my way around the weather-worn cobbled streets of the Shambles. It wasn’t too far to reach the noble surroundings of St Mary’s Church where I wished to further feast my senses at this grandiose venue for the prestigious Aesthetica Art Prize.
Showcasing selected works from specially chosen contemporary artists, the Church provided ample space to hold such an exhibition. Featuring sculptural works in many guises, the eyes were immediately drawn to the central installation by Jennifer Lopez Ayala ‘Timeframe’ using up to 100,000 broken eggshells. The artist has created a multi-layered sculptural painting on the floor. Through the use of various shades of white, the floor resonates an ethereal soft quality, like a scattering of white flower petals, opening up a reconsideration of the materials she has used, as well as the sculptural quality of entering the artwork, very much like a sea parting, leaving perfect meditative lines of shell debris as a reminder of its past presence.
The Art Prize has installed light boxes to showcase the landscape photography by Ellie Davies, her beautiful imagery feels veiled and distant from our touch aptly delivering notions of fragility of our relationship with the natural world. Whilst technology attempts to push through the physical limitations of television screens, Henry Driver’s ‘Odyssey’ presents a never-ending dream of an endless horizon blurring the lines between the digital and physical. With each action the horizon slips further away becoming an all-consuming attempt to reach a virtual destination.
Interpretation of space, light and form through sculpture continues in the stark white architectural lines of ‘Usurp’ by James Winter, contrasting with Liz West’s glowing coloured artificial light installation ‘Shifting Luminosity’ where she uses urban materials to spatially draw colour with light. Meanwhile the red neon wall sculpture by Rachel Ara ‘This Much I’m Worth’ immediately grabs your attention with its coarse black framework, electronic monetary interface graphically depicting its own sales value and vivid red lighting adding to the underlying sleaze factor.
From ecological concerns to transitions in urbanisation and developments in technology, the Art Prize instigates commentary on the way we inhabit the world – a subject close to my own heart and one we can all embrace…
Aesthetica Art Prize Exhibition
York St Mary’s
York, YO1 9RN
On until 29th May