Carole Gibbons' debut show at Hales opens in London
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Carole Gibbons' debut show at Hales opens in London
Installation view of Carole Gibbons, Of Silence and Slow Time, 31 May – 13 July 2024, Hales London, Photo by Damian Griffiths. Image courtesy the Artist and Hales London and New York. © the artist.

LONDON.- Hales today opened, Of Silence and Slow Time, a solo exhibition by Carole Gibbons. Her debut show at the gallery exhibits still life paintings spanning a ten-year period from the mid-1970s to mid-1980s. The show at Hales London follows on from Gibbons' inclusion in Women in Revolt! Art and Activism in the UK 1970-1990, which originated at Tate Britain and tours to National Galleries Scotland (25 May 2024-26 Jan 2025), as well as Gibbons' first solo exhibition in the US at White Columns, New York.

Carole Gibbons (b. 1935 Glasgow, Scotland) studied at Glasgow School of Art and was a member of The Young Glasgow Group alongside her peers Alan Fletcher and Douglas Abercrombie. After her studies she travelled to Europe, living in Spain for a time which deeply impacted her work, before returning to Glasgow, where she lives and works today. Receiving early career success between the 1960s-1980s, she was the first living woman to have a solo exhibition at Glasgow's Third Eye Centre in 1975. However, it has not been until recently that she has gained more widespread recognition. Gibbons has long been championed by artists Lucy Stein, Andrew Cranston, poet JF Hendry and writer Alasdair Gray. Art historian Susannah Thompson writes, 'Her reverberating, resonant use of colour, the bleeding edges between forms, and her makeshift decorated frames and dreamlike visions are the work of an exceptional, high-voltage artist.' [1]

For over six decades, Gibbons has cultivated a distinctive painting practice rich with resonant colour, symbolism and a striking painterly language. The body of works in Of Silence and Slow Time mark a shift in Gibbons practice from earlier mythopoetic landscapes to painting still lives, which she continues to explore to this day. Mythology remains in the everyday scenes, weaving in the epic through the staging of meaningful objects, sculptures, and referential books. In these deeply personal paintings, art historical references and classic painterly themes are combined with Gibbons' lived experiences.

Of Silence and Slow Time takes its title from a John Keats poem, Ode on a Grecian Urn, which describes an antique passed down through centuries: a sculpture that exists outside of a human sense of time, as it does not die. Gibbons' collection of long-treasured objects, some of which are broken, are forever preserved in her paintings - a Moroccan vase, a Chinese horse, a scallop shell and a stone head fallen from a local church. The phrase Of Silence and Slow Time also speaks to the practice of painting - Gibbons' solo pursuit, the sense of time felt in quietness of painting at home in Glasgow.

Gibbons' imagination and subconscious are in the paintings, which are imbued with a psychological fervour. Boundaries dissolve between space and the objects: 'their borders become porous and unnerving, almost too close to see, hinting at an objective impermanence.' [2] Colour is layered in expressive brushstrokes, luminescent underpainting shimmers and breaks through darker tones. Her paintings are in conversation with Cezanne and Bonnard - there is an influence of Vanessa Bell but 'Bell's decorous works, for example, do not suggest the deep penetrative interiority of Carole's, or the domestic struggle.'[3] Gibbons' paintings are strange, tender and poetic, hinting at a narrative that often evades the viewer. In a synthesis of the material with fantasy, Gibbons' world is within these still lives.

Gibbons' works are held in collections across the United Kingdom, in the National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh; City Art Centre, Edinburgh; Glasgow Museums; Inverness Museum and Art Gallery; Hunterian Art Gallery, Glasgow; Aberdeen Art Gallery; Low Parks Museum, Hamilton; The Argyll Collection, Oban; Leeds Museums and Galleries.

Gibbons has been included in exhibitions at Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh 1968; Compass Gallery, Glasgow (1970); Aberdeen Art Gallery (1972): North Briton Gallery, Gartocharn (1973); Commonwealth Institute, Edinburgh (1973); Third Eye Centre, Glasgow (1975); Edinburgh College of Art (1978); Leeds Gallery (1979); and 369 Gallery, Edinburgh (1980). In 2012 Lucy Stein staged two exhibitions including Gibbons, a group show, Strohwitwe, Glasgow and Lucy Stein: Manderley with Carole Gibbons: Paintings and Drawings at Gimpel Fils, London. Gibbon's work has been included in survey shows, Studio 58: Women Artists in Glasgow since WW2, Glasgow School Art; 369 Remembered - The Women, Summerhall, Edinburgh (2018); Against All Odds, Beyond Borders, Traquair House (2021); From The Studio, House for an Art Lover, Glasgow, 2021; I Suppose In A Dream, Kupfer Gallery, London 2022, Obscura Luz, Galeria Luisa Strina, Sao Paulo, 2022.

In 2023, Gibbons first monograph was published by 5b.

[1] Susannah Thompson, artforum,
[2] Lucy Stein, Carole Gibbons, 153
[3] Ibid p156

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