Under the Sea

Joanna McCormick


Cass Art's Kingston store upstairs gallery, September 2nd – 16th 2016

"The holder of the blue rose will have her wishes granted."

A blue rose is a flower of the genus Rosa (family Rosaceae) that presents blue to violet pigmentation.

In literature and art it is a symbol of love and prosperity, the impossible or the unattainable. Since the blue rose is a rarity in nature, it stands for something that is hardly within one's grasp, an object(ive) that seems too difficult to achieve.

Thus, the blue rose is admired and revered as an unachievable dream. It also expresses love at first sight, royal majesty and splendour.

One of the motifs in Joanna McCormick's oil paintings, vibrant blue roses dance across the canvas, sharing space with butterflies, sea monsters, sailors and mermaids.

Joanna's work snatches inspiration from retro imagery and texts from poetry and song lyrics. Victorian scrap books and medieval chap books, wallpaper and textile designs. William Morris and Sanderson. Old photographs, such as those found in "We are the people" - Tom Phillips' exhibition of postcards at the V&A.

These elements are painted in oil on canvas, with vibrant colours, using a broad range of techniques. From free scumbling translucent brushwork, handmade stencils and impasto, to intensely fine lined detail drawn in paint onto flat colours across the canvas.

Weaving historical and political narratives into a wonderland fairytale world, that viewers are encouraged to freely interpret, and create their own story from.

Under the Sea - For this exhibition at Cass Arts in Kingston, Surrey, KT1 1NW, September 2nd - September 16th 2016, interdisciplinary artist Joanna McCormick shows her paintings alongside Neil Ellis's Brilliant Neon, to create an installation that shines with vibrant colour and light.

The opening party on Friday September 2nd, 6-9pm, will be a musical dance extravaganza featuring Alice Labant and Gordon D. Raeburn.
Gordon's musical response on the bagpipes takes as its starting point the song Under the Sea. Weaving into this snippets and essences of hornpipes such as Crossing the Minch, Tam Bain's Lum and Little Beggar Man.

Alice Labant's contemporary dance movement research Current Biopsy, is a score based solo exploration of the components and mechanisms of the body. It explores the body's underlying kinaesthetic power of expression and examines volumes, gravity, fluids, cells, core bones and surfaces, and how these relate to water and currents of energy. Investigating and fishing for notions of spiral, tides and density.

The exhibition and performance is an experiment with spatial variations, and sits between disciplines. Exploring notions of materiality, repetition and how motifs and themes relate and interact across formats.

The anchor, the lobster, hearts, birds, words and rainbows.

The show connects personal and political impulses and transgresses boundaries to create an innovative and collaborative, bright and evocative installation.

Joanna McCormick is an interdisciplinary artist who has exhibited widely both in the UK and abroad. She has worked as artist in residence for organisations such as Westminster Arts, The Holly Lodge Centre at The Royal Parks at Richmond and the National Trust.

She has shown work at The Venice Biennalle as part of Vanya Balogh's Fall of the Rebel Angels - 2015.

Joanna has devised and delivered many live art interactions. For example with Sarah Sparkes for Chutney Preserves and Frog Morris for The Royal Academy of Arts.

Joanna paints and draws in oils, watercolour, pastel, pen, pencil and charcoal, and also makes sculptural objects linked to her live art practice. Joanna teaches art classes at The Thomas Calton Centre in Peckham, for Southwark Adult Learning, and runs a regular art drop in session at Union Chapel in Islington, every second Wednesday of the month, 10am-12. More info at: www.joart.info.

Born in Huntly, Aberdeenshire, Gordon D. Raeburn started dancing at an early age before studying at Trinity Laban, gaining a BA in Contemporary Dance and an MA in Dance performance, and is now a freelance performer.

Recent performances include 'Impronte' in Rome choreographed by Barbara Greco, 'Spun Through Shadows', choreographed by Thea Stanton and 'Stab' in Singapore choreographed by Peter Gn.

As well as performing, Gordon is part of the Swallowsfeet collective, the team behind organising and curating the annual Swallowsfeet festival in Brighton, his main role is choreographing the collective.

Being a musician also, music is often involved in his projects, playing the bagpipes, harmonica and piano.

Alice Labant was born in France where she trained at the Conservatoire de Musique et de Danse of La Rochelle. In 2014 she graduated with a First Class Degree in Contemporary Dance from Trinity Laban and won the Marion North Award for Outstanding Achievement in Performance. Based in London she has since performed for Charles Linehan, Marina Collard, Vania Gala and Jayne Port amongst others. Alice has a strong interest in other art fields, working in collaboration with jewellery designers, theatre directors, visual artists, video makers and musicians in Germany, Holland, Switzerland and France. Since early 2016, she has been part of Medeber Teatro in London and collaborates with Elia Patrizi in Berlin while developing her own creative research.

Brilliant Neon Ltd are a London startup, based in vibrant Peckham, designing and retailing bespoke neon at affordable prices. Our ethos is that we want everyone to be able to enjoy the beauty, craftsmanship and fun that traditional glass neon lighting can offer.

Our collection has been creatively constructed with a desire to spread happiness through artworks that bring a smile and embrace a sense of fun. The retro feel of neon in a modernist setting offers the fusion of vintage with cutting edge designs.

Inspired by vintage signs of Soho and Las Vegas, our talented craftsmen are able to skillfully mould glass neon into our original contemporary designs producing a beautiful level of lighting through illuminated colours that would enhance any interior.

Our neon signs work well in both home and business settings, so regardless of whether you have a large or small space that you want to brighten up, we are sure there is a neon to meet your needs and budget.

As well as offering our own unique range, we are able to create bespoke neons in a range of colours, fonts and sizes.


Under the Sea runs from September 2nd to September 16th 2016. At Cass Arts in Kingston, Surrey. 103 Clarence Street KT1 1NW.

Opening party with live art musical performance on Friday September 2nd 6-9pm.