Sunday, 15 November 2015


LONG & RYLE, LONDON 16.11.15

It's the 1930s and this 'Napoleon hat' clock is what you would see centre stage on the mantelpiece of many a household, above a roaring coal fire. But when you walk into a gallery and approach this exquisite pretender, the last thing you must ask is 'What's the time?'
Ancient and modern, solid and shifting, paper and stone jostle together in Ann Desmet's creations. Laura Gascoigne describes her as 'a beachcomber, scouring the sands of time for interesting fragments to use in her work'. Worlds within worlds appear: a palm tree and a classical column stand shoulder to shoulder inside the clock. Collaged images, wood engravings and prints  are embedded within convex glass lenses. The view changes as the observer moves around. 

 Jim Anderson. in a profile of the artist in Printmaking Today remarks that her focus shifted from the human form itself to human concerns, often conveyed in architecture. Rome, where she studied, felt like a time machine: a collage of pagan, early Christian, medieval and baroque fragments. And what better place to explore this passing of time and challenge the viewer than to transform vivid images into a 'pop up'  theatre inside the cavern of a sedate, trustworthy wooden clock?

One of the inspirations behind this radical new departure in her work is  Joseph Cornell.a man the New York Times called “a poet of light; an architect of memory-fractured rooms and a connoisseur of stars, celestial and otherwise”, and whose work was to be seen in an exhibition at the Royal Academy of Art earlier this year. This is the same Royal Academy  as appointed Ann Desmet a Royal Academician in 2011, one of only three wood engravers so honoured in its 247 years of history.
Moonlit Afternoon; wood  engravings and monotype (printed from found lino block0 collage on paper presented under convex glass face of wooden 'Napolean Hat' clock
Collage of linocut & wood engraving prints on paper, plus small mirror and other found objects inside hinged wooden door at back of clock at' clock (1920s) 

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