Galleries - April 2018

APRIL 2018 GALLERIES 43 around us was indeed a living, conscious ‘thing’, not just a vast accumulation of essentially ‘dead matter’, a world which we could, by these and other means, eg meditation, shamanism, participate in more fully. This was what virtually all the other world culture and belief systems had always implicitly believed – only the West was out of step – but as the now dominant culture, the materialist point of view is what the world largely believes. All of which is a pre-amble to October Gallery's new group exhibition ’Portal’, in which six international artists explore these premises and come up withsome wide ranging answers. At one end of the spectrum is Greg Dunn (PhD in neuroscience) whose astonishing computational visualisations in film and micro- etchings of the neural networks found in brain tissue suggest that there is indeed ‘a ghost in the machine’ generating an illusion of ‘consciousness’ – the ‘Western’ position apparently vindicated. At the other is Peruvian shaman Pablo Amaringo, whose ayahuasca-induced visions hint at a ‘world’ consciousness ‘outside’ the brain, while not so very far removed from these are the intricate Buddhist tantric patternings of Nepalese master Chewang Dorje Lama. Elsewhere in the show the arguments swing back and forth, the case far from closed. Nicholas Usherwood Bankside Gallery’s ‘Print REbels’ exhibition positions Sir Francis Seymour Haden (1818-1910) as its revolutionary-in-chief. Founder of the Royal Society of Painter- Printmakers in 1880, he was the artist to successfully argue that printmaking – particularly etching – was a creative medium in its own right. At the time, many printmakers lived by copying existing work and were not eligible to be members of the Royal Academy. Even originals were not considered to exist at the same level as painting and sculpture. In the 19th century prints could be made and distributed in greater volume than ever before with the result that they could be considered as mass produced, second rate or common. Haden helped turn matters around. Originally trained as a surgeon in 1840, he soon took up sketching and seriously studying portfolios by great engravers of the past. In the 1850s, he started to pursue printmaking and became a champion of the etching as original artwork; he is reputed to have worked from nature, drawing scenes directly onto reproductive plates. His efforts to encourage and promote the art form – along with those of his notorious brother-in-law Whistler – are held to have inspired the Etching Revival of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. And Haden’s society endures to this day with more than 130 elected members currently – a particularly impressive feat as it was not the first effort of its kind in England. In around 1803, the Italian-born, London-based Francesco Bartolozzi (1727-1815) founded the similarly named Society of Engravers. Bartolozzi was prolific in his output and was a founding member of the RA. Yet his printmaking society is described as short lived. Now, on his 200th birthday, Haden is celebrated with this exhibition that incorporates works by current RE members, past presidents and artists who inspired Haden, including Rembrandt and Durer. Frances Allitt How do we see the world? What is it exactly that we are seeing? What is the nature of our consciousness? In recent times these have suddenly become some of the big questions in contemporary scientific thinking. I say ‘suddenly’ because a survey of the consciousness literature from before the early ‘70s would have produced very slim pickings indeed; the subject was, in the Western materialist-science of the time, an open and shut case of the brain creating an ongoing ‘hallucination’ called ‘reality.’ Then along came psychedelic drugs, the trance states they induced blowing open the ‘doors of perception’ to use William Blake’s prophetic phrase. The fantastic ‘other worlds’ they revealed were way beyond rational, materialist explanation. Maybe, they suggested, the world CODA from left: F rancis Seymour Haden ‘Mytton Hall’ Bankside Gallery Chewang Dorje Lama ‘Six Armed Mahakala’ October Gallery M ind blown Creative mark