Swiss Cottage Library
88 Avenue Road
Julie F Hill, Gauld Architecture
+ programme featuring Disinformation, Paula Smolarska & Mary Yacoob
18 Oct 2019 – 10 Jan 2020
Opening Event: Thu 17 Oct, 6–8 pm (Part of Art Licks Weekend)
Exhibition continues: Mon–Thu: 10–8, Fri–Sat: 10–5, Sunday: closed
Address: Swiss Cottage Gallery (inside Swiss Cottage Library),
88 Avenue Road, London, NW3 3HA
Uncertain Ruins a site-responsive collaboration by artist Julie F Hill and Gauld Architecture that draws on the social, material and historical context of the Swiss Cottage Library in which the gallery is located.
Swiss Cottage Library, is a Modernist architectural landmark designed by Sir Basil Spence in the early 1960s, initially conceived as part of a much larger project for a grand civic site, comprising a new town hall and council offices. The library and its companion building, the Sports Hall (now demolished) – with which it formed an abstract composition – were the only parts built due to a change in the demarcation of council boroughs. The library building has a unique materiality, clad with vertical fins made of finely finished concrete with Portland stone aggregate – a visual play on the way the pages of a book fan out, giving the impression that one is entering the inner space of a book. The library is described by Historic England as ‘amongst the most ambitious architectural designs for a library found anywhere’ yet with continual shifts in the production and consumption of knowledge, including the rise of machine learning and AI, the functionality of such buildings is undoubtedly altered.
Julie F Hill’s monumental sculptures, video and photographic works respond to this context and have been made using a mix of artificial intelligence algorithms trained on astronomical datasets and related holdings from Swiss Cottage Library to consider the library’s potential as a container for all knowledge. Scaffolding structures produced in collaboration with Gauld Architecture reference the software architectures used in the construction of the artworks which increasingly produce, organise and distribute knowledge. Together they play with the notion of construction and ruin.
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The influence of technology and the ‘machine aesthetic’ in Modernist Architecture in relation to the design and planning of social housing projects such as the nearby Alexandra Estate will be further explored by artist Mary Yacoob through a workshop. This will culminate in artwork for the ground floor library windows as part of Camden Alive, a programme of arts and cultural events that celebrate the people of Camden.
An events programme featuring artists Disinformation and Paula Smolarska will expand on the themes of the exhibition and the context of the building. Details to be announced.
An accompanying publication will be launched at a special event at the library in early January that features a specially commissioned text, historical and installation imagery.
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Passengers is a site-specific exhibition series and project that explores the historical, social and material contexts of various sites and architecture. This initiative was formed in 2016 by artist Julie F Hill in collaboration with the architectural practice Gauld Architecture. The series aims to promote dialogue between art and architecture, exploring the contemporary built environment. For its inaugural series, supported by Arts Council England, artists presented work sequentially to explore the real and imaginative associations of the Brunswick Centre, a Modernist, mixed residential and commercial development in Bloomsbury, London. The project has since expanded to incorporate offsite exhibitions and publications www.passen-gers.co.uk
Julie F Hill is a British artist who employs an expanded approach to photography and image-making, creating sculptural installations that explore conceptions of deep-space and cosmological time. The astronomical image is shaped into formations that resemble uncanny meteorological or geological phenomena, creating immensities that we can walk amongst, and enter into. Enigmatic and illusory materials such as smoke or mirror act as conduits or portals, inviting us to cross a threshold to experience the unknowable. Through such environments she questions scientific images and the technologies used to construct them. Hill studied at Central Saint Martins (BA,2004) and the Royal College of Art (MA, 2006), and is currently a Fellow in Digital Print at the Royal Academy Schools (2017–). Recent exhibitions include The Space Out of Time, Terminal Creek Contemporary/Capture Photography Festival, Vancouver, CA (2019); Of Stars and Chasms, ArthousSE1, London (2019); Deserts on the moons of other planets, Passen-gers, London (2017). She has been awarded funding projects including Through Machine & Darkness (Arts Council, 2019); Passen-gers (Arts Council, 2016–17) and Cartographies of Life & Death (Wellcome Trust/Arts Council, 2012–13). www.juliehill.co.uk
Gauld Architecture is a London based architectural practice who work on a range of commercial, residential and public leaning projects that balance sensitivity for the history of a site with appropriate use of materials. As a practice they are engaged in multi-disciplinary activities through which they aim to promote discussion about the built environment. www.gauldarchitecture.com