Ellard and Johnstone’s Everything Made Bronze is showing at Plymouth Arts Centre until 10 May.
It is a very contemporary dilemma: how to take art from a passive experience to a collaborative act. Ellard & Johnstone’s work has been built around this principle, translating thoughts on time, age and renewal into a visual language that is rich with history, while remaining utterly modern.
With its contradictions of stillness and movement, Everything Made Bronze (2013) presents an interconnected flow of images that develop without narrative.
Filmed at two locations, Everything Made Bronze begins at the Gipsoteca plaster-cast gallery in the Museo Canova, designed by architect Carlo Scarpa. The footage is then intercut with scenes from a plaster workshop in Venice, established by Eugenio De Luigi, who worked with Carlo Scarpa on several projects.
In Everything Made Bronze, the blurring of time and place, past and present, is embedded in the film-making process itself. Using a 16mm camera to give a timeless, cinematic feel, the idea of how age imposes itself (quite literally, everything made bronze), is illustrated by the recording of how light moves through architectural space. The Gipsoteca was designed without artificial lighting, leaving the sun, mists and clouds from the nearby Dolomite Mountains, to illuminate and shade the exhibits.
I was lucky enough to meet Graham Ellard and Stephen Johnstone at the preview evening, and they placed importance on the viewer letting the sounds and images reverberate as an aesthetic experience. The film eases you through a wealth of connections – but you are left to consider them at your own pace.
Everything Made Bronze doesn’t hide from complexity, but its chief endeavour is illumination from every angle: a bold beam of light projects out, and draws you in. Your participation becomes the performance and the experience, transforming image into spectacle.
Helen works at City College Plymouth, and has been writing for arts & culture, film, beauty and fashion blogs since 2009. She has a blog at https://designergirl77.wordpress.com/
Images: Andy Ford