Johanna Bolton

Video of Johanna Bolton's Performance at Borough Road Gallery on Youtube by Theresa Kneppers

The performance was part of Johanna Bolton’s solo exhibition “Archive: Re-imagining the Borough Road Collection” at Borough Road Gallery.

Click here to see the video.

"At the time I was working on a research residency at Kew Gardens Herbarium, and had become fascinated with how scientists record and understand the botanical world through taxonomy. The way the Herbarium’s specimens were arranged physically in space was rational, but seemed to some extent random. I came out of the residency with a strong curiosity about how and why humans arrange and categorise objects to create archives.

A David Bomberg Legacy - The Sarah Rose Collection is of course a very different kind of archive, but I was curious to see how these same ideas of categorisation could function to highlight similarities and contrasts between works of art and artists. Art archives are a difficult beast, as the very nature of art is that each work is unique. This collection is knitted together by the choices of the collector, a specific location (London South Bank University, or Borough Polytechnic as it was formally known), and a precise period of time (1946 - 1951), which saw the influence of David Bomberg’s teaching begin to take shape.

I have spent my residency investigating and mapping the ordering principles that could be applied to this particular archive, first focusing on pictorial characteristics such as colour, shapes, mark making and subject matter. Through this process, I became interested in tracing human interactions between the paintings - the influence of the teacher, dynamics of rivalry and support within the group, and the shared experience of lingering trauma after the recent war."

- Johanna Bolton, about the exhibition and residency.

An archive of direction by Theresa Kneppers

This is an archive of direction. Or more specifically an archive of the directional marks in the Borough Road collection. 

Anybody who has painted knows of the breathless moment when the brush meets the surface.

Cut out, assembled and arranged according to direction, the process of categorising and re-archiving the lines gives a new room for these painterly moments to exist. 

Collectivised and cut from any pictorial context but their own presence, the lines still seems to me to be powerful memories of the artists at work; their commitment, decisions and physical presence. 

Archive of Direction by Johanna Bolton

Archive of Direction by Johanna Bolton

Detail of an Archive of Direction by Johanna Bolton

Detail of an Archive of Direction by Johanna Bolton

Johanna Bolton: Research Image of an Archive by Theresa Kneppers

Over the weeks, I have been looking at the works in the collection in their context of an archive. I have found these communal themes or qualities that could be used as categories to arrange them by:

Lines - direction
Marks: lines - dashes - dots
Marks: patches - blotches -dots
Structure - angles - rounds
Surface: texture - thickness - energy or crunchiness
Colour: greys, yellow-pink, red-orange, blues
Motif: bodies, city-scapes, portraits, vases etc...
Narrative: teaching, trauma, time, instruction, intention, choice
Reaction: breathing, movement

From the research: A list of motives, and how often they occur

Johanna Bolton Artist Residency 3.jpg

Johanna Bolton: An archive of made decisions by Theresa Kneppers

Contemporary artist Johanna Bolton is currently doing a residency at the Borough Road Gallery art store. You can follow her as she researches and develops a project for the gallery this fall. 

Bomberg wrote that ‘the virility of drawing lies in the immediate necessity to make decisions- with it departs the fears and the funk...’ 

I think this quality is very much evident in the decisive fast impasto lines in the art of the Borough Group.

Bomberg also wrote “I approach drawing solely for structure” - I will try the same but from the other side, as a sculptor looking for the instruction for structure in the drawings. 

This week I am buying armature wire and working at drawing out those structural lines into 3-dimensions again. 

Johanna Bolton Artist Residency at Borough Road

Johanna Bolton: An archive of breathing by Theresa Kneppers

Contemporary artist Johanna Bolton is currently doing a residency at the Borough Road Gallery archive and art store. This is her third week exploring the collection and related materials.

This week I look and draw and breath structure.

Collector Sarah Rose described her interest in the act of viewing and how it affects the viewer’s body, and breathing. (It is interesting to note that she worked as a singing teacher).

A poetic connection is drawn between the record of movement encoded in the painting’s structure and the physical reaction it evokes, the viewer’s breathing.

An element or category for this collection is therefore BREATHING.

Johanna Bolton Artist Residency.jpg