Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the Free Press
Mike Tilling
Arts Correspondent
1:20 PM 29th April 2021

The Newsprint Show

The consistently enterprising Chris Shaw detonates yet another new exhibition at his Three Works Gallery in Scarborough.

The genesis for the show was an open call for works on newsprint, issued in 2020. Obviously, the latest lock-down interfered, but when the dust settled, Chris found himself with over ninety contributions. Most are from the UK, but some come from as far away as USA and Europe.

Katy Hordern’s ‘The Times Can Only Get Batter’
Katy Hordern’s ‘The Times Can Only Get Batter’
Most artists chose to draw or paint on blank paper, but others took the opportunity to incorporate actual newspapers into a collage of news and comment. Given events in America and Donald Trump’s demise, the fake news issue is no longer as relevant as it was, but our newspapers still court controversy and sell sensationalism.

Katy Hordern’s ‘The Times Can Only Get Batter’ (acrylic on newsprint) is one such punning contribution. Painted over actual pages of The Times, is an equivocal representation of a fish and chip supper, but is it a fish? Why the reference to D-Ream’s 1993 hit/Labour Party campaign tune? Or should that be Dylan’s The Times They Are A’Changin’? When Chris publishes the statements that accompanied the works, perhaps we will find out.

Melanie Jones’, ‘The Organiser’ (mixed media on newsprint), is an affectionate portrayal of Chris himself, although his gaze is distinctly aloof, looking vaguely like an ancient philosopher divining the meaning of existence. The picture has some prophetic power as it is a mystery how the 94 works were curated into three rooms.

One of the most atmospheric pieces is Francesca Aikman’s ‘Forest, Italy’ (ink printing on newsprint) which tends toward the abstract, but has a very clearly defined path running between trees. The most disturbing may well be Jonathan S. Bennett’s ‘Benevolence Embracing Barbarity’ (Charcoal and dry pastel on newsprint) where a roll-top bath seems to have taken on the persona of a robot and gazes towards some kind of mechanical off-spring.

As you can see from the above, there is an immense range of work to view, and the same is true of the quality of the pieces. Chris Shaw was determinedly democratic in guaranteeing every entrant some wall space. However, a public vote for the three best works will result in a commission from Three Works for a solo exhibition in 2022.

The exhibition is dedicated to the memory of Christine Fiedorczuk who entered two pieces, but died of lung cancer in February this year