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Alina Young gets into the festive spirit and reflects on the year with EBC’s Calendar exhibition.

December is upon us, and festive themed events are once again all around. What is East Bristol Contemporary gallery’s answer? A stylish and refreshing take on the end-of-the-year theme, with a distinctive lack of tinsel and baubles.

The gallery’s final show of 2016, EBC010 Calendar presents 12 works by global contemporary artists. The open-call exhibition asked simply for a submission of a black and white image, and the final ‘calendar’ certainly expresses the variety and creative potential of such a request.

The works range from drawing to photography, from abstract to figurative, and the range of artists’ voices is felt in the mood of each piece. By having works uniform in size and palette, these differences are highlighted and create a distinct flavour for each month.

Though the pieces aren’t explicitly linked to their assigned month, this becomes liberating. We aren’t forced to stereotype winter with death, summer with passion, spring with growth and autumn with decline. The connections we form, if any, are therefore our own organic interpretations.

‘The connections we form [are] our own organic interpretations’

September’s piece, by Crisia Miroiu, is the most naturalistic work- a photograph of an apparently naked man, smoking a cigarette with a distant and almost delirious look in his eye. The printed description is a melancholy yet hopeful quote; it expresses the cool end to the summer, but that ‘He’, whoever he is, ‘stumbled upon an unworldly dream that kept him alive’.

Some of the works on display at EBC's Calendar

Some of the works on display at EBC’s Calendar

Something in this mysterious photograph captures September’s air- the understanding that the heat has passed, the acceptance of impending winds bringing change. And yet, perhaps the mind simply projects this onto the photograph. Perhaps it doesn’t matter either way.

Crisia Miroiu, September

Crisia Miroiu, September

With 12 works to focus on, it is inevitably tempting to compare and link months. Mr January (a.k.a Theo Vass) and Miss August (a.k.a Chloe Ashley) both explore the nature of architectural structures, but wildly differ in mood. Whilst August is a collapsing whirl of ladders and pipes, January is a harmonious structure inexplicably suspended in space.

This difference is reflected in their written descriptions, too. For August, the description introduces Ashley’s work and thematic exploration. January, meanwhile, decides to give the title of the work, ‘The Most Distant Places Seem Most Accessible Once One Is On The Road’, and simply state ‘TMDPSMAOOIOTR is about DP Seeming AOOIOTR’. The variety of each artists’ approach to their description therefore becomes an integral part of ‘Calendar’- each month is represented in black and white not only by a printed image, but by printed language.

The exhibition makes use of a range of subject matter and media

The exhibition makes use of a range of subject matter and media

The eclectic pieces come together into a coherent unit through EBC’s characteristic curatorial style, where presentation is simultaneously informal and yet deliberate. The prints hang without labels, some far above us and some almost on the floor, backed by washes of pastel colours or contrasted against white.

The eclectic pieces come together … through EBC’s characteristic curatorial style

The result is approachable and engaging- the eye is drawn up and down, and we are invited to walk around whichever route we please. January is next to June, May follows July. Despite being a ‘calendar’, the restriction of chronology is not the order of the day. The exhibition is a year at a glance, and encourages the viewer to take control of their experience of it.

Keep an eye on the EBC website for more upcoming exhibitions.

 Let us know what you thought of EBC010 in the comments below or on social media:

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