262 CHAIRS: Molly Stredwick and Becky Hancock

Coachwerks, Brighton

11 to 22 January 2023

“A work of art is a whole, and this whole contains many parts – the material out of which it’s made being just one of them. We could include the interpretive horizons of the art’s consumers, for example, and the contexts in which the art materials were assembled… In this way it’s obvious that there are so many more parts than there is whole.” (Timothy Morton)

Molly Stredwick

The chair in the art gallery has never been quite the same again since Joseph Kosuth presented, ‘One and Three Chairs’ (1965), in a Duchampian spirit of challenging the viewer to question representation in art. Subsequently we have learned, or been reminded, that everything is loaded with possible interpretations – especially when context is accounted for. A context that includes the viewer, of course.

Molly Stredwick (wall installation) and Becky Hancock (drawing and sculpture)

In 262 CHAIRS, currently installed in the Coachwerks exhibition space in Brighton, I find myself looking for a chair to sit on, as I need to rest awhile. Alas, this is not an option, which I find ironically amusing. But there are chairs galore in this warmly welcoming environment, thanks to the blazing log burner, which are represented in many drawings and two sculptures. Adam Spain, Exhibition Manager at Volt, Eastbourne, has neatly curated the exhibition, which may account for a certain ‘just rightness’ about a selective display that does not go overboard visually and presents enough physical content to engage the viewer.

The two exhibitors, Becky Hancock and Molly Stredwick (both graduates of Camberwell College of Arts) are presenting works that simply work well together. Not just because the apparent subject matter might be the same, but also because there’s an almost unassuming simplicity and innocence about the imagery as well as the means of execution. Though I suspect the content could be loaded.

Becky Hancock

Take Becky Hancock’s five drawings, for example, where each composition includes a pair of chairs placed at, what might be, a dining table. Domestic space suggests relationships, often about couples, and by extension, families. Here the furniture is, in a sense, naked. There are no figures directly represented, although the placement of, and spaces between, the various pairs of chairs are perhaps melancholy and at odds. The viewer might clothe these scenarios with their own imaginative interpretations or real experiences and any one of these drawings would be ideal to start writing a short story from in a creative writing class. The more visually dominant element in these drawings is the table, which distorts itself into angular hieroglyphs. The table might be a body that undergoes both voluntary and, as a domestic situation might dictate, forced distortions and poses – though not so much as a referee or arbitrator, but functioning as a victim of sorts. As sketchbook drawings, presented on the wall unframed, they might well function as studies for paintings or installations but they are intriguingly finalised statements that are impressive and compelling enough to be fully resolved outcomes per se.

Becky Hancock

Also on display are two 3D pieces by Hancock. At first sight the viewer might read them as adjusted ‘real’ chairs. But they are human-scale simulacra. A chair can be an idea, a model, a prototype, an image, a word or even a functional item. Whatever a ‘chair’ has the potential to manifest itself as it can also be a sculpture, of sorts. These two pieces take on an anthropomorphic presence with one leaning forward, as if in prayer, adoration of the deity or submission, the other sat back in picnic mode – engaged in déjeuner sur l’herbe, perhaps. Either way, both are fallen, making a melancholic and downcast presence at the viewer’s feet. Or telling us that they are not really chairs, whatever our automatic reading probably is.

Molly Stredwick

Co-exhibitor, Molly Stredwick, has commandeered the largest, most expansive wall, upon which 176 small drawings of chairs are displayed (selected from a series of 251). These are, for all intents and purposes, imaginary chairs. The perspective is sometimes distorted, conventional three-point perspective reversed, or appearing to be floating or rendered flat without surrounding space or objects included. Any resemblance to Hancock’s 3-D chairs is superficial, though creating a coherent feel and appearance for the exhibition. This wall of 11X16 approximately postcard sized drawings might be a catalogue of chairs, but each is surely the same one, or maybe not, for very subtle personality traits might distinguish each speculative rendering. Drawn on G. F. Smith paper samples with the same red Muji Gel pen there is a suggestion of the series or the genus with variety being sight. The manufacturer’s printed text functions as an internal framing device too, with the different numbers, paper types and weight information changing along with the colours and the visual and tactile presence of the material. So what appears to be repetition and sameness calmly explodes into huge variety. In effect, this wall of assembled drawings functions as an installation that can be viewed as a whole grid-type shape or as individual drawings that must attract viewers to any one sample or part, which is nevertheless complete in itself.

Becky Hancock

In his book, ‘Being Ecological’, Timothy Morton has explained that an ecosystem of parts and wholes is an environment of “just lifeforms and their extended genomic expressions: think of spider’s webs and beaver’s dams.” That’s what artists do; they make their respective webs and dams alongside and sometimes in collaboration with others (or curators make the connections). The viewer is part of the situation too; not so much caught up in the web, as one of its constructors.

Note: Both quotations from: Morton, T. ‘Being Ecological’, Pelican, 2018 (p.113)

From the 262 exhibition leaflet


Becky Hancock – https://www.becky-hancock.com/bio

Molly Stredwick – https://mollystredwick.com

VOLT Eastbourne – https://www.volteastbourne.org.uk

G. F. Smith – https://gfsmith.com

Muji Gel pens – https://www.muji.eu/uk/stationery/stationery-gel-pens

MOMA – Joseph Kosuth – ‘One and Tree Chairs’ – https://www.moma.org/collection/works/81435


A Poetic Exploration of Space in Lines

At Window Gallery, Phoenix Art Space, Brighton

2 – 24 July 2022 (Wednesday – Sunday, 11.00 – 17.00)

Outer space is right here, right now. It’s in front of us and in us, one and all – for there’s an inner space too. In terms of individual consciousness the two may as well be the same. When we think, we travel too, even if we remain physically still. When there is nowhere left to go, when we are trapped, marooned or sheltering from the storm we can rely on mental space. Still, but adrift in time, when memory kicks in to take us out of ourselves there is a palpable sense of space as an extension of self. Such are the conditions of splendid isolation, afforded most recently during the early months of the global pandemic.

Kiki Stickl – ‘Breath In Breath Out V’, 2020

Kiki Stickl clearly made the most of her own experiences of her family’s six months spent in countryside near Munich during the first lockdown in 2020 when she produced her ‘Breath in Breath out’ series of drawings, several of which appear in Drift. Here she encountered ideal conditions for creativity: time and space, duration and environment – and possibly sound as well – especially when the world is hushed. In fact, as I awoke on the morning after seeing Drift being installed at the Phoenix Art Space a couple of days before the opening I was semiconsciously thinking of Stickl’s drawings as visual soundworks. Not necessarily apropos Cage’s 4’ 33”, but literally, and deafeningly, silent. Stickl’s drawings suggest small arenas of silent sound consisting of visual counterpoints, full of emptiness inviting a form of meaningful mark making as an abstract response to recalling time and space. These are drawings made as an end result as they are not subservient to, or necessarily leading to painting as might traditionally be the case. Stickl conjures drawings from a meditation in the everyday physical realm of being that amount to sensory, environment-based studies. From a landscape environment to the literal sheet of paper that she works on, the drawings map out themselves. Sometimes she cuts the paper to reference, literally, a sense of layering as well as amalgamating marks on the paper surface as a form of recording what has been seen and remains to be seen: Cartesian, with Buddhist overtones.

Kiki Stickl – ‘Breath In-Out (A Walk)’, 2020

Drift presents 19 works. One is a temporary wall drawing (employing paint); another is a painting (titled, ‘Lines of Disruption’); plus seventeen square format drawings on paper, simply but immaculately framed. The painting is placed in the adjoining coffee shop, but cannot be missed on the main show wall as a little taster of her painting practice. The wall-based work, ‘Drift’, at about two metres square, is the centrepiece in the long Window Gallery space. Composed as an essentially linear structure from two tones of grey paint on the white wall, with the addition of ground up glass beads applied to the lightest grey paint when it was still wet, the darker grey mass suggests a resting figure, perhaps in meditation pose. An ephemeral, time-based work such as this will disappear at the end of the exhibition later this month. This work, therefore, demands that we hold it in our memories, just as we may do from our personal experiences of places beyond the gallery.

Kiki Stickl – ‘Breath In Breath Out (Cosmic Matter)’, 2020

The bulk of the show consists of the drawings that have been selected from a much larger body of works, the aforementioned ‘Breath in Breath out’ series. From drawing to drawing, as they are arranged in blocks and rows, there is great variety of imagery and mark making. Subtle use of colour is occasionally employed, although they still read as essentially monochrome iterations. In many, linear rhythms consisting of scribbles, dots and short or flowing lines are accumulated suggesting light and weather conditions. Forms are deconstructed to some extent, invoking that sense of recall that does not rest, preferring flux and instability as performative, shorthand approximations. Imagery that might be solid is no longer fixed as a conventional photograph might replicate for the viewer. The paper cut-out sections present voids and absences, shadow and light, useful contrasts and visual paradoxes. Implied shapes and lively line is reductive though essential as imaginative remnants of remembrance celebrated. These are motion pictures, mapping the psyche as much as the terrain.

Kiki Stickl – ‘Breath Walk Dance’, 2020

Stickl is not so much taking a line for a walk (re: Paul Klee) as inventing and playing with accumulations, sometimes in counterpoint mode, un-egotistically presenting a notion of drift through time and space.

Geoff Hands


Phoenix Art Space – https://www.phoenixbrighton.org/Events/kiki-stickl-drift/

Kiki Stickl – https://www.kikistickl.com