Curated by Jonathan Murphy, 6 artists who had all held exhibitions at Swiss Cottage Gallery in recent years — Peter Harris, Nicola Lane, Simon Periton, Albert Potrony, Paul Simon Richards and Frances Scott - were invited to select works from Camden’s Art Collection, and pair them with work from their own studio.
Nicola selected R.B. Kitaj’s Mort (1974) and Ernest Stamp’s Searchlights from Parliament Hill, German zeppelin (1915) paired with her film of AT HOME: A Living Centenary 1914-2014. In the text for Swiss Cottage Gallery about the process behind her selection, Nicola writes:
“ …these fragments I have shored against my ruins” T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land: V. What the Thunder Said
"Much of my work is concerned with the fragmentation and de-coding of found footage and archive material. In 2014’s Swiss Cottage Gallery exhibition ‘At Home: A Living Centenary 1914-2014’, I explored the power of relics & archive in memory & history as part of WW1 commemorations, with the ‘At Home’ film narrative built around deconstructing a 1934 photograph of my mother. Born August 15th 1914, the month and the year WW1 was declared, she can no longer access memories of either past or present: the film attempts to construct a family narrative in spite of a world erased by time and dementia.
The search for meaning can be the bridge between an actual event and its representation. As I explored Camden’s online art collection, I was astonished to discover a fragment of family memory transmitted to me by my late father when I moved to North London in 1988. Born in 1905, he had perfect recall of his life and described being woken in the night and taken to a window on the top floor of his family’s rented flat on Finchley Road - to watch the spectacular drama of a zeppelin raid over Hampstead. There in the Collection is this family memory transformed into a material object by modest, unknown artist Ernest Stamp, an engraver of other artists’ work, whose other paintings in the Collection are all uninspired views of Hampstead and the Heath - but the drama that never left my father’s memory sparked this vivid, intense painting where the urgency of Stamp’s need to remember is represented by the date recorded in red paint: E Stamp Sept 8 1915 and the title on the back: Searchlights from Parliament Hill Hampstead NW 2 bombs dropping
"The cataclysm of the Holocaust deeply affected RB Kitaj’s life and work; and his print in Camden’s collection is starkly titled MORT. In the centre is a skiff with folded oars - the end or the beginning of a journey- surrounded by images of dead artists. Kitaj’s pantheon of artists have made their journey to the underworld and are not forgotten - but Kitaj undermines their legacy by the random placing of biographical captions, so image and caption do not relate to each other.
"We search for meaning in our fragments and ruins; but meaning can be lost as well as found."
The exhibition featured the following pieces from Camden’s Art Collection: Paul Duley’s Madonna & Child (1971), Derek Jarman’s Plague Street (1972), Derek Jarman’s Landscape (1967), Derek Jarman’s Landscape II (1967), Sharon Kivland’s Hairdressers (1980), R.B. Kitaj’s Mort (1974), Ernest Stamp’s Searchlights from Parliament Hill, German zeppelin (1915), John Hilliard’s Windows on Window (1971)