Sutton Gallery is pleased to present Phantom, a solo exhibition of works by Simon Terrill, produced while living in London between 2009 and 2011. In this group of works Terrill examines the precarious line between utopia and dystopia within crowds and spaces.
“Simon Terrill’s photographs revel in the beauty of facades and the erotic implications of these veneers. Floorboards of a dance studio blush with the aura of dancers, blurred into ghostly whiffs of being. A crowd herding down a staircase is erased in movement, leaving behind an eerie residue of presence. A Brutalist public housing landmark in London’s East End, designed by Ernő Goldfinger and described by one of its architects as imparting ‘a delicate sense of terror’ in its approach has been floodlit with stage lights. Scattered with residents against a bruised coloured sunset, it forms a diorama both futuristic and nostalgic. These places are pulsating with the potential and history of the here and then.”1
The works in this show present examples of two key parallel strands in Terrill’s practice: ‘found’ scenes taken from a sports stadium, dance studio and street corner, where the figures’ own movements have erased them from the image; and, as evidenced in Balfron Tower (2010), the use of carefully constructed crowd scenes. Works like Balfron Tower require many months of planning, consultation and involvement with residents of the building, as well as funding bodies, leading to a single image imbued with a sense of utopian ideals merged with chaotic energies.
Shot on a cold evening in November 2010 and flooded with stage lighting, Balfron Tower functions as a staged tableau. Residents and those with a connection to the tower are seen posing on balconies and scattered across the grounds below, capturing the many lives concealed within the soaring grey monolith. By providing the building’s residents with the opportunity to reinterpret architect Ernő Goldfinger’s utopian vision in the manner of their own choosing, Terrill presents a re-imagining of an imposed social space.
The Balfron Tower project also serves as the basis for another image in Terrill’s new body of work, Tower of Balfron (2010). With strong visual references to the Tower of Babel, Terrill’s biblical allusion serves to ‘represent a blend of languages, factions and groups who do not mix’. Tower of Balfron also showcases a new development in Terrill’s practice: the digitally altered image.
Simon Terrill has exhibited extensively since 1998. He has had a number of solo shows, including most recently The Balfron Project at The Nunnery Gallery, London in 2011 and Crowd Theory – Southbank, Sutton Gallery, 2010. His work has been included in numerous group exhibitions, both in Australia and internationally including Contemporary Encounters, National Gallery of Victoria, Waiter Waiter, Bernard Jacobson Gallery, Mayfair, London, both 2010.The William and Winifred Bowness Photography Prize, Monash Gallery of Art, 2009;and Photo-ID, Contemporary Art Norwich 09. Terrill has been the recipient of a number of prestigious awards and grants, including grants and residencies from the Australia Council (2009, 2002 and 1998); in 2010 he was awarded the ACME studios Bow Cross Residency in London; and the Anne and Gordon Samstag International Visual Arts Scholarship in 2007. His works are held in important public and private collections both Australia and the UK.
1Chantal Faust 2011Artist’s profile