CultureCCA's Summer Exhibition

CCA’s Summer Exhibition

It’s like Christmas Day for art lovers at CCA Galleries right now. For the eighth year running, they’ve hosted their Jersey Summer Exhibition – a chance for budding and professional artists to show their work to the island. I met with Laura Hudson, an artist and curator for the gallery, to discuss the work on display as well as how they decide where to put it.

The work that CCA received this year is above and beyond in terms of quality and variety. From paintings to photography to sculptures, the gallery currently boasts it all. Gallery is supporting the exhibition once again with our Graphics Art Prize Exhibition, alongside event sponsors RBC and Hawk, Alastair Crosby’s Rural and the National Trust, who co-sponsor an award. We’ll be judging on July 12th, with fame, cash prizes, and editorial features to be awarded to this year’s winners.

This year, Gallery has reached new heights in terms of their involvement with the exhibition, as we’ve actually become part of the artwork. We’ve featured the work of Sue Kenny before in print, and she’s chosen to enter ‘Quirky Mirror’, a huge 3D sculpture composed of rolled-up, repurposed part editions of our little magazine. It is fair to say that this increased the shelf life of our mags by a great deal, transforming something temporary into something much more permanent. I was told that this piece was a nightmare to move around, weighing in the region of 150kg. While this is only a rough estimate, I do not doubt the number; I’ve delivered enough magazines by now to understand the burden they impose on one’s lower back. This did not stop Laura and Valeria from finding the perfect place for Sue’s masterpiece; however, it did result in them both taking a trip to the osteopath.

Some of Laura’s own work is featured in the exhibition this year, and ‘It’s all about the Others; Who You Are has everything to do with Who We Are’ was a piece I found fascinating. It is composed of fifteen abstract portraits of various nurses wearing gas masks. When I asked whether it had anything to do with the pandemic, I was shocked to find out that Laura actually created this piece right before COVID became a thing. She finished painting the series in September 2019, which adds to the eeriness of the piece. It harkens back to World War Two, to those risking their lives to look after patients in hospitals that were getting bombed. She commented, “it wasn’t about disease… it was about masks and what we hide behind.” She’s really interested in social cohesion and disfunction, and how we work together. When you see one masked individual on their own, they seem isolated and a threat, but putting them together in a group shows a sense of belonging and working together. 

A piece that attracted a lot of attention at the opening evening of the Summer Exhibition was Rachel Ara’s piece, titled ‘Mine, Mine, Mine!’. It depicts a pair of high-end shoes, with Margaret Thatcher’s handwriting carved into green lino on the soles. The inscription is back to front, so that when the tread touches the ground, it would leave an imprint of the words ‘mine, mine, mine…’. It both harkens back towards Thatcher’s political strategies and the extremities of ownership by the wealthiest in the world. It was certainly an interesting piece to go back and visit on the election result day.

Kay Le Seelleur once again made powerful statements with her work, which focuses on feminism and the everyday experience. Her titles bring almost as much joy as her artwork. My personal favourites are ‘Miss Slitty and Her Latest Lizard’, ‘Desert Traffic featuring Mickey Mouse and the dung beetle sitting on Ozzy Manders Head’ and ‘Clodagh Had Been Pregnant For Months and Months and Months, What She Didn’t Know Is the Child Was Well and Growing and Had No Intention of Being Born’. Her titles have attracted so much attention that a visitor is actually coming to Jersey for The Festival of Words to do an event surrounding their ingenious madness. Since her knockout show at ArtHouse Jersey’s Capital House last August, she’s created around 150 new paintings, which will be exhibited in CCA in a solo exhibition from the 19th September.

There is too much good artwork in the gallery to talk about in one article. The variety currently in CCA is totally immense. While Alexander Dawes has created a stop-motion film using pinhole photography, Emily Paranthoen has created a futuristic digital image that opens a portal into another planet. The team at CCA spent five days curating the exhibition, in a way that “makes each piece sing stronger” and flow into the next. It is a beautiful stream of Jersey’s most talented artists. Don’t miss it.

The CCA Summer Exhibition is open until the 26th July – make sure you catch one of the highlights of our island’s artistic year.

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