Elements @ The Island Gallery ★★★


By Rosie Kelly, Third Year History

'Elements' is a brand new visual art exhibition, platforming a diverse range of Bristol artists and showcasing a plethora of mediums. Exploring themes of fragmentation, heritage and connection, Rosie Kelly sheds insight into the launch event.

The Island Gallery recently opened the doors to 'Elements', its brand-new exhibition celebrating the work of five Bristol based artists. The exhibition showcases selected works from Niamh Fahy, Prerna Chandiramani, Stephen Collings, James George and Andy Robinson. The launch event on 15th October saw the exhibition accompanied by the electronic music of Distant flows, creating a fun and sociable atmosphere, quite unlike the reticence I usually associate with art galleries. The evening provided a chance for family and friends to enjoy the exhibition and an opportunity to chat to the artists about their pieces. It really highlighted the importance of supporting local artists and maintaining the Bristol art community.

Exhibition view: 'Immediately Intimate Series' by Niamh Fahy, Elements | Epigram / Rosie Kelly

A thread of common elements can be traced between the work in this exhibition through the theme of fragmentation. In particular, the artworks of Niamh Fahy and Prerna Chandiramani stood out in their powerful exploration of connection and absence. Chandiramani’s abstract prints titled 'Silent Stirrings' drew on her feelings of displacement as a British resident with Indian cultural roots. Subtle at first, her works depict the folded shapes of paper, inspired by her old family letters. She stated that they were her attempt to “recapture the importance of heritage and connection.”

Exhibition view: 'Lines of Communication' by Prerna Chandiramani, Elements | Epigram / Rosie Kelly

Likewise, Fahy’s highland landscapes and fragmentation of mountains were captivating, reminding me of nineteenth century Japanese woodblock prints. Undeniably one of the most striking pieces in the exhibition was her Lithograph print entitled 'Falling, 2019'. This piece combines print and delicate embroidery on waxed Japanese paper to confront the dichotomies of movement and stillness, alluding to the continuously changing cycles of landscapes. Of this piece, Fahy writes that “what was once the deepest ocean now forms the highest peak”. The exhibition also included a selection of Andy Robinson’s giclee prints. These works contrasted the more delicate prints of Fahy and Chandiramani with their sharp, juxtaposed black and white shapes, providing an immersive, hypnotic and dramatic viewing.

What once was the deepest ocean now forms the highest peak - Niamh Fahy
Exhibition view: 'Immediately Intimate Series' by Niamh Fahy (detail), Elements | Epigram / Rosie Kelly

One of the first things you see walking into the exhibition is four small sculptural pieces on plinths in the centre of the room. These sculptures’ emphasis on graphics and shape were effective in tying the works in the exhibition together. Particularly interesting and unique was Prerna Chandiramani’s 'Lines of Communication', which addressed her feelings of loss and grief, again based on her letters from home. This piece was a book of handmade Japanese papers called washi, interwoven with red strings that represent the changing language within her letters. Prerna encouraged us to touch and look through the book, allowing you to fully explore the movement of the threads. I was inspired by the elegance, purity and aesthetic poetry of the sculpture; so delicate yet thought provoking and moving.

Exhibition view: 'Lines of Communication' by Prerna Chandiramani, Elements | Epigram / Rosie Kelly

What struck me most about this collection of works was the presence of such creative and diverse mediums. A broad range of different print making techniques were displayed, including Andy Robinson’s giclee, a type of jet printing which he combined with his graphic compositions to produce bold prints. Chandiramani’s ‘Silent Stirrings’ are achieved using the traditional process of relief printing to present the spontaneous folds of her papers and letters. Moreover, James George’s bold and colourful works were created using layered cards and papers, accomplishing pieces unique in their appearance and subject matter. I left the gallery feeling like I had discovered a whole new array of print making possibilities.

Exhibition view: 'Silent Stirrings' by Prerna Chandiramani, Elements | Epigram / Rosie Kelly

This exhibition surprised me with its emotional pull and powerful messages that the artists concealed within graphic and cartoonist lines. I urge everyone to pop in to admire and support these talented and exciting local artists over the next week.

The exhibition is on display until 20th October at Bristol’s The Island Gallery. Click here more information.


Featured Image: Epigram /
Rosie Kelly

Will you be heading over to see 'Elements' soon?