exhibition archive

Roger Ackling: Down To Earth

Curated by Donald Smith

21.06.11 - 30.07.11

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Private view:
Tuesday 21st June 2011 6 – 8.30pm


CHELSEA space is honoured to present recent work by Roger Ackling. For more than forty years Ackling has made his work by projecting sunlight through a magnifying glass to burn lines of tiny dots onto found and discarded materials. The wood onto which he burns his geometric patterns is often driftwood found on coastal walks but he also works on remnants of obsolete objects, unidentifiable or broken - weathered by time and the elements and often including rusted nails, holes, stains or daubs of earlier paintwork, hinting at their previous useful existence. For the exhibition at CHELSEA space Ackling will show a group of works made on discarded wooden boxes and the handles of tools.

Through the slow and meticulous, solitary process of drawing with the sun, his practice is repetitive and ritualistic; simultaneously this ritual or routine of mark making could be seen to be matter of fact and ordinary. The work is also incredibly pragmatic - an entire exhibition can be made from found materials, worked on using a pre-existing and cost-free energy source, and can then be packed in a small bag and carried across continents. Ackling also poses a philosophical question: “what is the work – the artefact or the smoke?”

Born in Isleworth, London in 1947, Ackling studied at St. Martin’s from 1965-1968 alongside a group of artists who challenged traditional notions of sculptural production. Since that period, Roger Ackling’s meditative art practice could also be seen as ecological and scientific in the sense that the materials are pre-existing, recycled/upcycled, and that he harnesses light from the sun through glass to transfer energy in the form of heat to create marks.

Roger Ackling’s work has been included in many public collections including those at Tate, the V&A and The Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. He was recently one of the invited artists working in collaboration with partical and theoretical physicists at CERN European Organisation for Nuclear Research. He lives and works in Norfolk and London and is represented by Annely Juda Fine Art, London.



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Roger Ackling

Roger Ackling

Roger Ackling

Roger Ackling