Alice Macdonald and Jessica Jane Charleston combine for Looking Glass

Alice Macdonald & Jessica Jane Charleston (contributed pic)Alice Macdonald & Jessica Jane Charleston (contributed pic)
Alice Macdonald & Jessica Jane Charleston (contributed pic)
Alice Macdonald and Jessica Jane Charleston combine for Looking Glass, the latest exhibition from Weald Contemporary (May 18-June 7).

Alice and Jessica have been drawing together since 2016 when they first met at The Royal Drawing School in London.

“In the upcoming exhibition, we see them deepen this connection by spending time exploring the self-portrait and the intimacy of really looking at another person,” says gallery director Holly Fox-Lee. “Whether gazing through a window or into a mirror, we are confronted with our own image and, by extension, our place in the world. Glass thus becomes a metaphor for introspection and contemplation, inviting us to consider our relationship to the world around us and one another. The connection between glass and the act of looking is intrinsic. A mirror is a glass made into a tool for looking at oneself or around corners. We use a glass prism to reveal the colours of light. Eyeglasses, telescopes, microscopes or binoculars, these are all tools for seeing more than our eyes can see on their own.

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“Similarly, the process of drawing can also be used as a tool for seeing and looking. A way of revealing more than what is literally there.”

As Alice explains: “As we have drawn each other we have also talked about drawing and about our lives, relationships and work. Our conversations are embedded in the drawing and return to me when I look at them. When you draw someone, it inevitably has a lot of yourself in it. In that way drawing is a sort of mirror that reflects you back as much as it depicts the person you are drawing.”

Alice and Jessica are mixed media artists, both experimenting with paint, print, clay and more recently embroidery. Alongside collaborating in the studio, they have been sharing two large-scale embroideries. Passing the fabric back and forth for several months, with no plan, simply embroidering a reply to the other. The embroideries have been an opportunity to work spontaneously and intuitively, working from the imagination, Jessica says: “It felt like a good way to keep up a conversation about the exhibition, to stay connected even when we weren’t literally communicating, we were threaded together in this way.”

The show is at The Mill Studio, New House Farm Barns, Ford Lane, Arundel, BN18 0EF, Thursday-Saturday 10am-3pm; Sunday 10am-1pm. Entry is free of charge. All works are for sale.

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“Launched in 2023, Weald Contemporary is a nomadic gallery and consultancy. We believe that art should be accessible to everyone and provide both an exhibition space and tailored mentorship to emerging and mid-career artists,” Holly explains. “Last year, we launched our online shop which features accessibly-priced paintings, prints, drawings and ceramics by artists who work in Sussex and the south. These artworks, and those from our current exhibition can be purchased directly through this platform or at the gallery.”

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