Katja Hock - Stille Fragmente
Dame Laura Knight’s plein air method of work has been brought into view with Lakeside’s ‘In the Open Air’ exhibition which has been on display since September. A Nottingham Schoolof Art student, who became famous for her circus and ballet subjects in the 1920s and 30s, Knight’s lesser known idyllic landscapes are the focus of this exhibition, bringing a fresh sense of the outside inside.
Bright colours and a looseness that characterises Knight’s Impressionist style illuminate the Djanogoly with vast canvases, many in elaborate gold frames, creating a truly heart-warming welcoming. A traditionally chronological hang allows a narrative to unfold. The first pieces on show are more experiments of style whereas moving into the gallery the experimentation is more towards subject matter.
Indeed the broader focus of artworks on display is that of the idyllic landscape but if we look in the other rooms of the Djanogoly Gallery there are scenes of workers, gypsies and most strikingly a courtroom scene of the Nuremburg Trials. The Docks, Nuremburg (1946) stands out as the least characteristic of Knight’s work. Commissioned as part of her war correspondence for the BBC, this artwork stands alone as a scene of destruction and pain. There seems to be two images depicted as a single composition; one of the destruction of war to the land and one of a courtroom.
Dame Laura Knight - Ascot Finery
The exhibition also includes a portrait of the artist Lamorna Birch and his children which was given to the University of Nottingham in 1968. It can usually be found in the café of the Djanogoly but has been moved into the gallery for the exhibition taking a central space in the second gallery.
One aspect of this exhibition that I cannot fail to notice is the reoccurrence of rainbows throughout Knight’s landscape scenes. They offer a positive spin on what could be a neutral setting, and an even greater amount of colour that sometimes hints at an ideal beyond reality. Whether this was an intentional decision for the exhibition you will have to decide, but it certainly adds warmth to the display.
This exhibition is accompanied by a smaller show of work by Katja Hock titled Stille Fragmente. On three screens are rotations of a selection of monochrome forestry photographs and ‘moving’ images. They aim to explore the distinction between memory, fact and imagination. Just as Knight presents an idyllic version of reality, Hock seems to use the landscape to create uncertainty in our minds.
Dame Laura Knight "In the Open Air" and Katja Hock "Stille Fragmente" run until November 4
Katja Hock images courtesy of Lakeside Arts Centre. Dame Laura Knight - The Cornish Coast (1914-1917 - National Museum Wales©) and Dame Laura Knight - Ascot Finery (1936-8 - Dundee Art Galleries©) are reproduced with the permission of the Estate of Dame Laura Knight DBE RA 2012 All Rights Reserved