a treatise of paintings by G R Thomson
Belated notes towards a belated history of a belated intervention in the field of late systematic constructive art practice
The following notes make no claim to be the definitive account of the complex undertaking that was ‘Exhibiting Space’. Please regard them as a ‘public draft’, subject to revision, change and maybe, one day, some kind of consolidation.
Since its end in 1989, reliable information about ‘Exhibiting Space’ in the public
domain has not been readily accessible. This has led the odd specialist researcher
to engage in ill-
The tendency has been for speculation to usurp the place of concrete research. Scholarship on ‘Exhibiting Space’ has been consistently poor, failing to meet minimum academic standards.
By inaugurating the process of bringing accurate information on ‘ES’ into the realm of public discourse, it is hoped that these notes will assist any future researchers in constructing a more accurate picture.
Exhibition 2 Drawing: 44 works on or in various media
‘Exhibiting Space’ was a radical artistic, political and social intervention dedicated to
“raising the public profile of systematic constructive art practice”. A self-
In the making from summer 1983, it opened its doors to the public in October 1984.
The primary focus of its activities was the collective-
In addition to reaching across the disciplinary boundaries (e.g. visual/verbal, drawn
for artists by the culture in power), “Exhibiting Space” fostered collaborative,
In session, meetings were held on the first Saturday of each month. Most meetings
included strategic and management components. Both ‘moments’ were open to the public.
This ensured that decision-
A commitment to public reasoning, openness and accountability was considered essential
to countering ‘closed shop’ exclusivist group-
‘ES’ was in part a response to past failures to resist such tendencies. It would
strive, therefore, in both language and deed, not to reproduce the closed intellectual-
The habitual use of terms such as ‘founder’, ‘group’, ‘member’ etc., plays only to the divisive logic of binary oppositions. The reality shaped by the careless use of such terms was often one in which subjects were positioned as either privileged Insiders or rank outsiders. Breaking down the logic of binary opposition was hardly going to be aided by uncritical retreat into a reality shaped by its divisive language.
The primary aim of ‘ES’ was not group unification, achieved through the constitution
of excluded others. Participation was not restricted to subjects prepared to sign
up to some foundational creed. Opening ‘ES’ to all who were prepared to graft necessitated
the positive avoidance of the excluding language of subject-
‘Exhibiting Space’ was imagined and collaboratively nurtured into the public arena by Trevor Clarke, Martine Lignon, Catherine Pearson and G R Thomson.
During its pre-
The initiating coalition comprised intellectual and manual workers from many fields:
Significantly, vanishingly few of the many who freely aided and abetted the making of ‘ES’ came from within the practice to which it was dedicated.
Its first public outing, the two-
Having facilitated the opening of ‘ES’, its co-
Shortly after its public debut, the artist Christine Hatt became a regular and indispensable participant.
The regular and indispensable participation of artists Jean Spencer and Malcolm Hughes
followed that of Christine. They were frequently accompanied by the artist Keith
Within the firmament of SCAP’s established ‘names’, these three were exceptional
in extending ES’s continuous, near-
At various times over the years, Douglas Allsop, Alan Brett, Ken Butler, Dee Daniel, Judith Dean, James Dillon, Simon Granger, Mark Nellis, Sandra Smith, Caroline Wilkinson, Mark Willis and Gary Woodley all performed significant strategic and/or organisational roles.
Many of the questions for contemporary practice, articulated and tabled in the context of ‘ES’, remain open to this day.
To be continued . . . please check back. Comments are welcome.