Preparing for an Exhibition on Shelagh Cluett (part 5)
One of the curatorial concepts for the exhibition Shelagh Cluett Sculpture 1977 – 1980 was that both the black and white photographs of the sculptures and the sculptures themselves might be read as ‘drawings in space’ – a series of lines or cuts across the walls of CHELSEA space. In order to highlight this idea and not visually confuse visitors trying to view such slight sculptures, it was important to light each sculpture with one spotlight each which would create a single shadow – a further ‘line drawing’ on the gallery walls and floors.
One residual aspect of this single shadow was that, because the works lean against the wall and the floor, it highlighted the sculptures’ critical relationship with architecture. The shadows, stretching back from the sculpture across the floor and up the wall, somehow made the space between sculpture and architecture more tangible as a spatial plane. Cluett’s great friend the late Noel Forster (see CHELSEA space #19) might have described this as “the concretisation of space”.
The late Noel Forster’s own work at CHELSEA space in 2008 , a series of scrolled paintings held high to the wall at one end and low at the other, had their own critical relationship to architecture and created a certain kind of line through space, but the sense of a tangible spatial plane between the shadow and the object in Shelagh Cluett’s work was also reminiscent of the perceived spatial disjuncture of the taped line in Gary Woodley’s Impingement No. 47, the very first exhibition at CHELSEA space.
As far as we know there is no documentary evidence of Cluett’s interest in this perceptual phenomenon and since her death there is slim chance of establishing her interest in this regard, however, along with the delicate materiality and elegant poise of these sculptures, the topic of space/negative space was one of the ongoing discussions around her exhibition at CHELSEA space.