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Ursula

Jefford Horrigan

Saturday 19th November - 17th December 2022

Artist reception Saturday 19th November 12pm-6pm

Jefford Horrigan has said he makes short performances and small films, rooted in sculpture but jealous of painting – especially the still life. 

As you wander through any town or cityscape you will see rooms lit by the changing hues and glow of televisions screens illuminating the ceilings and back walls of their interiors. Here at 303 Projects Jefford Horrigan has made a video installation Ursula that features a number of his films where everyday objects and actions occupy that dreamlike state of the early sodium hours of morning. An installation, where the still life is fraught with subtle tensions and furniture, televisions and flower vases are the protagonists. 

Jefford Horrigan lives and works in London and has shown widely across the UK and abroad. Solo and group exhibitions, performances and screenings include Ken Artspace, London; Assab One, Milan, Italy; Coronet Theatre, London; Whitechapel Gallery. London;  Estorick Collection. London; Focal Point Gallery, Southend; Modern Art Oxford. Oxford; Matts Gallery. London; South London Gallery. London; Warwick Arts Centre, Warwick; Korean Cultural Centre, London; Transmission Gallery. Glasgow; Institute of Contemporary Art. London; and Tate Britain. London.

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URSULA

 

Ursula is a space is a place is a face

Ursula is a bright light with the name Ursula

Ursula is a star is a little bear is a shirt drip-drying inside a wardrobe

 

Ursula is a hinterland a zone a home a scene a dream

 

Ursula is an act an event a still live a tableau vivant a secret haunt

 

Ursula is a chamber a salon a phantom store-front

 

Ursula is a frequency a temperature a vibrancy an atmosphere

 

Ursula is sunlight on the wall at dawn and lamplight in the window at night

 

Ursula is entanglement configuration confusion and floral derangement

 

Ursula is the voice of an angel entering a room and whispering, “Wake up Ursula”.

Jefford Horrigan speaks of making “short performances and small films rooted in sculpture but jealous of painting”. In his work everyday domestic objects such as ironing boards, vases, lamps, wardrobes and tables become protagonists. Here perhaps we can think of the novelist Henry James who also aspired to painting through the quality of his prose, an elaborate density of description develops the schema for an entire world. While the author's intricate writing creates spaces in which the psychological drama of his characters can unfold (rather like a stage set), Jefford creates intensely layered spaces populated by objects which appear to have their own elemental drama. This is an animistic ‘theatre’ in which the mise en scène is central while the human interlocutor plays only a supporting role.

 

Within the installation URSULA a certain delineation and arrangement of space speaks to painting and most directly to the space depicted in Vittore Carpaccio's 'The Dream of St Ursula'. Painted towards the end of the 15th century in 1495, this work shows a high-ceilinged Venetian room in which an angel enters from the right while Ursula sleeps in a four-poster canopied bed on the left. Both figures are very much to the edge of the frame so that it is the room that becomes the main subject of the painting. This room is populated with alcoves, a cupboard, statues, a table with book and hourglass, a stool, carpets, arched windows and on the two fully visible windows stand two large vases, one containing myrtle and the other red carnations. There is a small white dog, wide awake sitting on the floor by the end of the bed. This description is far from exhaustive as the more one looks the more detail emerges. There is a crown to be found, since Ursula is a princess, at the very end of the bed's platform, while at the back right is a cabinet containing books and letters and a candle. The room is bathed in the light of dawn flooding in from behind the angel standing in the doorway. This caressing light fully illuminates the wall supporting the bedhead.

 

Now here is another room at the entrance of which is a tall lamp supported by its ornate brass and onyx stand. It is topped by two lampshades sewn together with red embroidery thread that sometimes spills towards the floor. Then within the room three wooden chest of drawers emerge from the walls, facades frontally displaying phantom drawers that cannot be opened. Walking deeper into the space, one is drawn behind these forms that emit various sounds - akin to the listening booths of old record shops, where audiophiles would hover then enter to be cocooned by music. On this rear side these pieces of hybridized furniture are richly painted – the interior of one is coloured ultramarine with golden stars outlined in a fiery orange, another an acidic green and embellished with circles of yellow, bronze, blue and red with vertical and horizontal lines running through them, and another a rich tomato red with various coloured lozenges upon it. All three contain a flat screen playing a series of intertwining videos from which the soundtracks spill, and artificial light flickers, illuminating the back wall of the gallery. The films present a dreamscape of objects, vessels, fluids and flower arrangements, a dense realm of intoxicating detail. A material universe is rendered feral in filmic space that is painterly and performative, the result of which leaves a residue unquestionably yet elusively sculptural.

Michael Curran