When I went to visit Andrew Cranston's exhibition, "Never a Joiner," at the Ingleby Gallery in Edinburgh, I was lucky enough to have the whole exhibition to myself. It was just me and the paintings, communicating in silence. A beautiful experience that is very rare when attending exhibitions so will be a time I will treasure forever.
*All opinions expressed are solely my own and should not necessarily be taken as the artist's intent.
The space tells a story. It is not our typical beginning, middle and end type of story but instead it is a series of fleeting moments of time throughout the artist's life, imagination or both, that we are only able to catch a glimpse of. This story has no beginning and no end, there is no clear objective or reason, we are caught in a spiral of time that never seems to stand still long enough for us to decipher the meaning of each work.
Cranston places the familiar in unfamiliar compositions, provoking us to question what is really going on in what would otherwise be a fairly normal environment. One of my favourite works from the show was, "Questions of Travel," where we are looking at the back of a young boy who is standing in front of a boat display in a museum. The museum is darkened creating an unsettling atmosphere whilst the innocence of the boy looks on into the lightened boat display. The box perhaps is a shining beacon of hope from the past on to the future generation. The child in awe of the magic of stories. What pulls you in is the little boy's legs fading away to reveal the floor boards underneath. I pondered in front of this work for a while, trying to decide if he has become part of the museum, nailed to the floor, always yearning to leave but never finds the courage too or has he now become free, travelling the world, that was all started by this visit? Maybe we got a glance of time's ghost hidden amongst the layers. The story imbedded within the handling of the materials.
Cranston building up the layers of materials then involves himself in the cycle of deconstruction and reconstruction, scraping off, diluting down and then building back up. Each layers exposed shows us the journey of the work, each mark becomes a visible decision of the artist, leaving a memory of the artist's presence within the works themselves which has been left behind for us to discover.
"Walled Garden, (after Paul Klee)" appears to be a fairly mundane setting at first glance but upon closer inspection uncovers an unusual image. At first a painting of a dog and a parrot sitting in a messy garden seems very odd yet calm but stepping back the large painting is quickly turned into a prison. The wall consumes the piece, only a glimpse of pale sky can be seen peering over on the top, right corner. A pale base layer is uncovered to delicately form a path leading to the closed gate and a ladder not quite tall enough to reach the top of the wall as well as silhouettes of garden furniture and a cat that appear like ghosts. Through his use of symbolism and methods of making Cranston shows us the whole of the garden's story in just one image. Every inch brings us closer to the garden's history and then we are left to view it in its current state, loved or abandoned only time will tell.
From the material to the symbolism Cranston has taken us on a journey of the unexpected. Each work has nothing to do with the next, there is no obvious connection, yet they fit together like a puzzle flowing naturally onto the next. It is a beautiful conversation between the artist, the paintings and the viewer that has been linked together to create a new kind of story. By Cranston joining together the "unconnectable" he truly has proven himself to be forever a joiner.