The Thinking Hand

A Group exhibition at the APT Gallery, Depford, London

There are fourteen artists in this exhibition whose work ranges from drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, printmaking, digital print to installation.They represent a diverse cultural mix reflecting the international community that makes up UEL.

The show highlights a wealth of cultural and international perspectives, a well-travelled maturity and a broad range of considered and reflective working methodologies.  The artists are:

Gisel Azevedo, Martin Barrett, Matthew Chambers, Anna Daniels, Grenville Davey, Garry Doherty, Paul Manners, Kon Markogiannis, Peter Nevin, Patrick Oronsaye, Vassilis Pafilis, Hedley Roberts, Hideyuki Sawayanagi,Timothy Weston

The title for the exhibition is taken from Richard Sennett’s recently published book “The Craftsman”.In it he reflects on the current cultural agenda driven by business interests that want a flexible workforce, with transferable, yet shallow craft skills, a society where the competitive market and financial efficiency has driven out the human need to do a job well, a position that presupposes that motivation is based purely on money. In challenging this, Sennett makes the point that everyone can become expert and this is not a case of being gifted or even a genius, but a product of practice, trial and error and the combination of hand, head and eye.The common thread is a commitment or need to practice, a need that overrides immediate financial rewards in favour of ‘getting it right’.For the artists in this exhibition this is the overriding priority.Art is a vocation, a process rather than a product, and often a way of saying something that cannot be expressed adequately in words.

The UEL Professional Doctorate attracts a variety of artists. About a third of the current body of Professional Doctorate students are academics seeking to to strike a positive balance between their commitment to education and their desire for creative autonomy through this qualification. The majority of the remainder are artists with a substantial professional history behind them for whom the course offers both professional enhancement and the opportunity to work in an academic setting. And the last few are MA students for whom this is step on the road to becoming practicing artists. What they have in common is the their willingness to put themselves and their ideas and beliefs about their practice under intense critical scrutiny, and attempt to ground their work and methodologies squarely on well thought-out premises. The result is not a UEL house-style, but rather a number of artists who are strong in their individual practices.Perhaps this culture of doing things well and knowing what you are doing is one way on which the paradigm criticised by Sennett can start to be displaced.