Nicola Slattery exhibition
Grapevine Gallery, Norwich
This charming solo exhibition of paintings and prints demonstrates a real maturity of style and content. Nicola's interest in illuminated manuscripts is still evident, as is the fairytale quality of children's picture books. However, while symbolic references to mythical events remain, a more stylised figure has emerged – that of the melancholic, heavy-lidded bare-toed curvaceous female.
Given Away departs further from her previous style, acknowledging the rules of perspective and creating a sense of depth in the scene portrayed. But in strikingly eerie contrast, the woman in the foreground seems to float over the canvas surface, detached from her setting and immobilised in silent conversation with an equally two-dimensional dog.
I found Mothers & Infants particularly compelling. The duality of the two figures, each cradling a sleeping child in the curved crook of her arm, conveyed a strong image of two central circles. This symmetry, combined with the flatness of the paint effects, gives the composition a decorative quality and makes the figures' heads seem strangely incidental.
In the bold acrylic Another Good Catch, a stylised female figure is bizarrely cast adrift in the embrace of a colossal fish, to great effect.
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Nicola has magnified the surreal quality of this piece by creating a landscape in which, although the water recedes on the horizon, the boat and its unlikely cargo seem to advance from the canvas.
The fascination of Nicola's work is that while the narrative content invites interpretation, its very ambiguity denies it; thus allowing analogies to be drawn on many levels.
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t The exhibition continues at the Grapevine Gallery, Norwich, until May 7.