Artists Stephen Cripps, Lindsay Seers and Keith Sargent to be exhibited at Turner Contemporary
Turner Contemporary, Margate, is pleased to present two new exhibitions – Stephen Cripps: In Real Life and Lindsay Seers and Keith Sargent: Cold Light that open across the gallery from 22 October until 8 January 2023.
Stephen Cripps: In Real Life
“A lot of the things that people think of as being bad about city life or the urban environment, of being tense, or paranoid, or frightened of loud noise, I find creative energy in all that. I enjoy the sounds and vibration of the city…” – Stephen Cripps
Stephen Cripps: In Real Life is the first major presentation of the work of Stephen Cripps at a UK institution. Cripps (1952-1982) was a sculptor and performance artist whose ambition was to make works that existed in their most complete form at the moment of their creation – in real life. His practice was transitory and multisensory, incorporating pyrotechnics and explosives; mechanical and kinetic objects constructed from found or salvaged materials as well as sound recordings ranging from supersonic aircraft and barking dogs to car horns and hair brushing. Audiences at his gallery installations and performances were more active participants than passive observers to work that was highly experimental and, at times, dangerous. “As soon as I have rehearsed, everything’s gone. By experimenting at each performance, I am seeing [the work] for the first time along with the audience.”
The still and moving image documentation of these performances, as well as the audio work recorded on cassette, convey the impact of Cripps’ work, and capture the atmosphere of the events. His 100s of drawings, collages and other works on paper have a graphic power and immediacy that directly communicate Cripps’ enquiring and, at times, frenetic thinking that brought together ideas about art, machines, urban life, war, gardens, aeronautics and much more. Cripps often annotated his drawings with details of the materials for construction or instructions for activation. These drawings were not necessarily created as artworks in themselves, and certainly not with an art market in mind, and for this reason are unselfconsciously fresh and seductive.
In Real Life comprises over 250 works on paper, films, documents, and audio recordings that create an in-depth and extensive picture of Cripps’ artistic practice. The material is selected principally from the Archive of Sculptors’ Papers held at Henry Moore Institute, part of Leeds Museums and Galleries, with additional material from the Acme archive. Drawings and photographs of early sculptures, like Machine for Birds, installed on the Serpentine Gallery lawn show Cripps’ debt to Tinguely. Live performances and kinetic sculptural machine installations such as Burning Xerox Machine and Roundabout for a Crashing Helicopter, as well as a range of pyrotechnic experiments at The Acme Gallery and at other venues are also represented. Cripps’ enormously rich store of ideas meant that he was not confined to what was practical and achievable with his limited resources. Many of the drawings are for works that are epic in their ambition but, for Cripps, are nonetheless more than worthy of his graphic exploration. Some of these unrealised projects include Machine Carrying Hot Air Balloon, Notes on a Dance for Jets and Helicopters, or Underwater Ballet.
For Cripps, to live life fully and to grasp the reality of the moment was not something that required introspection and contemplation, but action. He was a passionate and generous artist who was fascinated with exploring extreme sensation and testing the very limits of experience. “There’s a great fear about explosives as a destructive element, I use them in a creative way.”
On 5 November 2022, Turner Contemporary presents a day of panel discussions, film screenings, live art commissions and a book launch to celebrate the legacy of Stephen Cripps. Close friend and collaborator with Cripps, Anne Bean together with musician Fergus Kelly and artists Richard Wilson, and Sean Dower are creating new works to be presented and performed especially for this occasion. The event is supported by Acme and the Elephant Trust.
London-based charity, Acme is England’s largest provider of permanent affordable artist studios, and this event is the first in Acme’s 50th anniversary programme.
Beginning in November 2022, Acme will be celebrating with a year-long programme of events, awards and wider initiatives. Stephen Cripps: In Real Life is the perfect curtain raiser for Acme’s anniversary year, given Cripps’ intertwined legacy with the organisation, seminal shows at The Acme Gallery and the presence of former Acme tenants and residents as part of the exhibition’s programme
In Real Life and the associated public programme is presented by Turner Contemporary and curated by Ingrid Swenson, with the support of the Henry Moore Foundation.
See turnercontemporary.org for the full programme
Lindsay Seers and Keith Sargent: Cold Light
“Electricity and magnetism are interconnected phenomena and nearly every occurrence in daily activity stems from the electromagnetic force. The eye is powered by electricity. The activity of the human brain has been defined in relation to an electromagnetic field produced by the brain itself. Tesla said we will never understand electricity.” – Lindsay Seers
Cold Light is a new video installation and virtual reality work by Lindsay Seers & Keith Sargent. Its title draws on historic references to the first electric light bulbs: no longer reliant on fire for illumination, the new electric lights were referred to as ‘Cold Light.’
The exhibition has been shaped by the artists’ research into the life and work of Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) – an inventor, engineer, and futurist whose ideas about using naturally occurring electromagnetic fields to provide energy remain remarkable. Tesla performed scientific experiments theatrically, as a showman, believed in alien life forms and considered himself to be an automaton reacting to internal and external stimuli. Today, he is best known for his contributions to the design of the Alternating Current (AC) electrical system. Cold Light takes its inspiration from Tesla’s visionary revelations in science, his extraordinary consciousness, and his non-normative brain.
Research on these subjects has been sustained over many years and developed through dialogues with scientists including Chris Frith, FRS FBA, Professor Emeritus at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at University College London; Anil Seth, Professor of Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience at the University of Sussex; Paul Fletcher, Bernard Wolfe Professor of Health Neuroscience, University of Cambridge; and science writer Philip Ball.
Installed across two galleries, the exhibition includes both physical and virtual environments. In the first space, a virtual reality artwork weaves together images and sound to create a complex, dreamlike experience in which Tesla himself appears in the form of a sculpture. Other references include the science-fiction films Metropolis – the earliest film to feature a robot – and 2001: A Space Odyssey. The multi-layered narrative, voiced by actor Bill Bingham, features Tesla’s own words and incidents from his biography, along with reflections on time, consciousness, and the significance of electro-magnetism in all things. The intensity of imagery in this work relates to the functioning of the brain in certain neurodivergent states, such as autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and their effect on the visual field.
In the second room, projected images and sculptural elements echo those of the VR environment. You are invited to climb a scaffold tower to survey the fabricated landscape, which includes a moving robot whose appearance draws on popular sci-fi. In this immersive installation, accounts of UFO sightings in Kent intermingle with footage of Margate’s Shell Grotto, discovered in 1835, the origins of which remain a mystery.
Slippages and repetitions weave between the real and the virtual in Cold Light – sculptural and architectural elements recur, rendered and recombined physically and digitally, calling into question distinctions between materiality and representation.
Cold Light is developed in partnership with Matt’s Gallery and E-WERK Luckenwalde.
For more information, please contact Four Communications:
Caroline.Jones@fourcommunications.com | +44 (0) 7881 912849
Press images can be found here
Notes to Editors
Turner Contemporary is one of the UK’s leading art galleries. Founded to celebrate JMW Turner’s connection to Margate in 2001, the David Chipperfield designed gallery opened in 2011.
Our work extends beyond showcasing world-class exhibitions, to driving the social and economic regeneration of Margate and East Kent and transforming lives in one of the most deprived areas of the UK.
Since we opened, Turner Contemporary has welcomed over 3.5 million visits, put over £70 million back into the Kent economy and connected with thousands of people from the local community through our world-class programme.
As a gallery with free entry, we anticipate our local communities will visit this winter both formally and informally to benefit from the warm space. Support and donations from individuals, companies, trusts and foundations will help us continue to open our doors over the coming months.
Founded by artists, for artists, in 1972, Acme is a charity based in London which provides affordable studios, work/live space, and a programme of artist support including residencies and awards. Acme is the single largest provider of permanent affordable artist studios in England, focused on supporting artists in necessitous circumstances.
Stephen Cripps (1952-1982) studied at the Bath Academy of Art, Corsham, from 1970-74, graduating with a BA in Fine Art. His dissertation was on Jean Tinguely, the Swiss kinetic artist who heavily influenced his early work. From 1975 Cripps lived and worked in a large studio at Butler’s Wharf, on the Thames. This large warehouse building also provided workspace for more than 100 other artists, but in 1979 they were moved out to make way for regeneration; that same year Cripps joined the London Fire Brigade. Cripps’ association with Acme began in 1977 when he presented a live work as part of a short performance season. The following year, in 1978 he had the first of three solo shows at The Acme Gallery, the second and third taking place in 1980 and 1981. Between 1976 and 1982 Cripps made dozens of solo and collaborative performances working with a wide range of artists, musicians and filmmakers and at a variety of different galleries and other venues in the UK, Europe and in New York. His most frequent collaborators were Anne Bean, Paul Burwell, David Toop and Richard Wilson. He died in London in 1982 shortly before his 30th birthday. The majority of the material in the exhibition has been loaned from Cripps’ archive, which is held at the Henry Moore Institute with further loans from the Acme archive.
Seers & Sargent
Seers & Sargent began working together in 2012 when Sargent was commissioned to develop digital animations and publications for Seers. Over the intervening years this continued and developed into a collaborative practice. The artists have developed a language of blending objects, environments, light, sound, VR and CGI to contemplate quantum theory in a search for truths. Their work references human, animal and plant life with an ultimate desire for a new philosophy of metaphysical thought that can chime with the science it evokes
Lindsay Seers works in London and lives on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent. She studied at the Slade School of Fine Art (1994) and Goldsmiths College (2001). Her works are held in collections including Tate, Arts Council England, Artangel, MONA, Tasmania and the Marwan T Assaf Collection. She has won prestigious grants and awards including the Sharjah Art Foundation Production Award, UAE; Le Jeu de Paume production award for the Toulouse Festival, France; the Paul Hamlyn Award; the Derek Jarman Award; and the Wingate Scholarship from The British School at Rome 2007/8. She has shown at SMK (National Gallery of Denmark); Venice Biennale 2015; Hayward Gallery, UK; MONA, Tasmania; Bonniers Konsthall, Sweden; Smart Project Space, Amsterdam; Kiasma, Finland; Turner Contemporary, UK; Centre for Contemporary Art Poland. TPW, Canada; Tate Triennial, UK; Sami Centre for Art, Norway.
Keith Sargent lives and works on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent. He studied at Bath Academy of Art (1986) and the Royal College of Art (1988). He has won awards at L’Age d’Or International Arthouse Film Festival, India (2020), Luis Bunuel film festival,, India (2021), Barcelona Planet Film Festival, Spain (2020), Wildsounds Film Festival, USA (2021), Eastern Europe Film Festival, Romania (2021). His films have been shown at Vienna Science Film Festival, (2020), Aesthetica Film Festival, UK (2020), FIVARS, Canada (2020), The International 3D Film Festival, Russia (2020), Blackbird film festival, USA (2021), Human Rights Film Network, Dox, Czech (2021), Global lift-off festival, Germany (2021), Anifilm, Czech (2021), Blacksphere festival, Czech (2020), Quarantini film Awards, USA (2020), Madrid film awards, (2021), The Continental film festival, USA (2021), Istanbul international film festival (2021).
Seers & Sargent have shown in Nowhere Less Now3 [flying saucer], Sharjah Art Foundation (2020); Care(less), Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, frequency festival, Lincoln (2019-20); Bath Alumni, Bath Spa University, Bath (2020); Vanishing Twin (Tetragametic Chimerism), Fotogalleriet, Oslo (2019); 2052 Selves [a biography], Knole House, UK (2018).
Ingrid Swenson MBE is a curator and writer with over 30 years’ experience working primarily with contemporary artists in a variety of gallery, offsite and unconventional contexts. From 1998 to 2021 she was Director of PEER, the acclaimed east London arts organisation. Recent exhibitions that she has curated have included those with artists Lubna Chowdhary, Samson Kambalu, Olga Jevric, Jadé Fadojutimi and Jonathan Baldock & Emma Hart. Prior to PEER she worked at the Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle; the ICA and Serpentine, London and has guest-curated exhibitions for The Contemporary Art Society and Whitechapel Art Gallery. Current writing includes texts about artists Savinder Bual, Anna Cady and Chisato Minamimura for Arts&Heritage’s Meeting Point commissions. Her children’s book Masterpieces in Pieces, a young person’s guide to taking great art apart, has just been published by Hachette.