a film by Tom Dawson


Sat. 23rd / Sun. 24th / Sat. 30th / Sun.31st October
Open: 3-6pm
Admission is free.

Valley, a film by Tom Dawson, transports us to the monumental and cavernous brick and stone-built arch of a Victorian railway bridge with a busy road passing beneath. The bridge is the only real indication of the valley, seen almost as an inversion, through the span of its arch. As the film moves along it traces the exterior and interior structure of the bridge and arch, asserting its architectural presence and scale. At the same time, throughout the film there is a fairly relentless stream of traffic passing under the bridge, waves of sound echoing within the arch, punctuated by gaps in the flow and intermittent glimpses of figures, trees and wildlife. The action within the film appears to be circumscribed by notional boundaries which the camera/film-maker (and viewer) is unable to cross. The activity is contained within the confines of this demarcation although we may frequently sense or catch a glimpse of ‘beyond’ in the sky, nearby buildings, or as a vehicle or figure is seen or heard to enter or leave ‘the frame’.
The filming of Valley appears to fall into two periods of the day indicated by afternoon or evening light. The shift from ‘earlier’ to ‘later’ is signalled by the illumination of street lighting somewhere near the middle. The film seems to condense a time span which is unspecified but appears to be not much greater than that seen by the viewer. The sense of time, linked to a feeling of linearity suggesting continuity, is perforated by the operation of the camera and by dislocation, fragmentation and sporadic repetition of movement over the course of the film’s actual duration of 21 minutes and 52 seconds.

The film’s chief protagonist is the film-maker. The viewer appears to be seeing ‘directly’ through the camera lens and occupying the position, as it were, of the film-maker as he moves around the location. We see only what the camera sees and, by inference, what the film-maker wants us to see.

The screen is filled with constant movement, at times erratic and at other times smoother; a duality of movement which simultaneously captures circumstantial events and actions whilst mirroring the experience of seeing. This duality appears to vacillate between interconnection and disassociation, as do the visual and the aural. The instinct to make a kinaesthetic association between these elements is involuntary, but we also start to question this urge. In the opening frames, for example, we see the bridge from some distance with reflected light flickering on the interior (roof) of the arch and can hear rather indistinct ambient sound. Unconsciously, we make rapid associations to interpret these visual and aural clues. The instinctive tendency to interpret or construct what we see gives rise to a tension of which we become increasingly aware as the film unfolds. This tension arises from the dialectic of the experience we bring to bear and that of watching the film. The latter, which is determined by the wandering eye of the film maker and ambient sounds filtered through the camera lens and microphone respectively, cannot really correspond to actuality.

The visual aspect of Valley takes on lyrical and formal qualities which are increasingly apparent through near repetition of certain movements and viewpoints. The strong diagonal accent to the composition of the frame where ground and bridge meet, as the camera tracks the movement through the arch, is a passage which is re-enacted at intervals and seems pivotal to the film’s momentum. At other times we see the brick or stone of the arch in near-static intimate detail as flat, almost painterly, colour abstraction. At its most extreme the flatness of the screen asserts itself as a near black or a bleached out white of under or over exposure. The intensity of close scrutiny, colour or light saturation, is relieved by a whimsicality when for example the film maker playfully follows a random chalk line of unknown authorship. The intimacy of close-up contrasts with more distant and detached viewpoints which rarely (if ever) incorporate any great sense of depth within the field of vision.

If Valley relates to a tradition of lyrical film-making, that lyricism is occasionally broken by the intrusion of voices or the glimpse of a foot. Such momentary breaches in the disembodied sensorial flow serve to reassert the duality of the viewer’s position of involvement/detachment in the intense and sensual experience of the film.

Stuart Cameron
October 2010

Schools visits:

Crescent Arts and the artist welcome enquiries from schools and groups who wish to visit the exhibition at normal opening times, or at other times by prior arrangement. Please contact Stuart Cameron at Crescent Arts by phone or email to make arrangements. Tel: 01723 351461 (please indicate for attention of Stuart Cameron)


Crescent Artspace at Queen Street is a fully accessible location including easy wheelchair access from the street.

The Meanwhile Project

Crescent Artspace at Queen Street is financially assisted by the Development Trust Association and The Meanwhile Project, in partnership with Scarborough Borough Council’s Civic Pride ‘Windows to the Borough’ and Town Centre Management. It is part of Scarborough’s art and regeneration initiative.


Not Writing, Drawing

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Saturday 11th – Saturday 25th September 2010
Opening times: Thursday/Friday/Saturday
11, 16-18, 23-25 September 2010
11.00 am – 4.30 pm
Admission is free.

The work by Susan Timmins presented at Crescent Artspace this September bears the deceptively prosaic title ‘Not Writing, Drawing’; indicating – at least on the surface – a parallel between processes of writing and drawing and hinting at their innate similarities and differences. Both activities consist of mark-making and are subject to the inevitable unpredictability of physical execution, which counterbalances the preordained procedure inherent in Susan Timmins’s work. Certain factors may be predetermined – for example, the employment of grid or text as a premise for individual pieces or groups of work; orange fluorescent marker pen or paint on paper as the materials of choice. The physical execution then takes over, which in itself may involve highly structured or repetitive actions which follow the ‘rules’ of grid or text.

The use of the grid in contemporary visual arts is not new and can be traced as a modernist device associated with 1960s Minimalism – offering freedom from compositional choices but also restriction through its characteristics of repetition and uniformity. The use of text also features amongst the devices of modernist and post-modernist art. Like the grid it is a double-faced device which can, by way of cultural circumstances and conditioning, both allow and deny access to ‘reading’. The duplex nature of the grid or text is compounded in Susan Timmins’s work by her choice of fluorescent orange, triggering a retinal interference which simultaneously attracts and repels. The colour is, quite literally, eye-catching but is of an intensity that is uncomfortable and hinders or blurs perception.

There is a sublimity in the artist’s work which derives from the mathematical, and gives a sense of overwhelming or vast phenomena, confounding comprehension and evoking feelings of awe and perplexity. This sublimity is phenomenological rather than mimetic (representational); the grid depicts nothing but itself, but neither is it strictly bound by limits of its physical scale, or by precision or exactitude. The irregularities of execution can be translated into infinite and unseen variables, sensed rather than perceived, which mirror the complexity of natural phenomena. That is not to say that the artist’s actions are determined by laws of nature or cause and effect. On the contrary, there is a spontaneity in the work which arises from what Kant refers to as the causality of reason- following autonomous and spontaneous order as distinct from pre-given (external) natural laws. This sense of ‘the sublime’ is also evident in the artist’s use of text which brings it closer to a ‘post-modern sublime’, replacing magnitude with complexity; a notion fuelled by the computer technology of virtual reality. We move constantly within, between and across cultural contexts enabled by technology – which engenders a deceptive sense of common ground – through virtual reality. (The term itself suggests something of the sublime complexities inherent in the concept). ‘As generic formatted screen space becomes more prevalent, I am curious about how we ‘read’ or compose anything visually. In the West, we presume it to be from left to right; this is mirrored in how text is written, yet there are many ‘alphabets’ – such as kanji characters or Islamic text – that are written and read in the opposite.’ The physical presence of the work is inevitably a significant factor, in that it is neither virtual nor computer generated; rather it is a trace of the artist’s own hand (or signature) which imbues it with a human scale, regardless of whether the individual work is fragmentary and intimate or extends beyond the field of peripheral vision. Stuart Cameron August 2010 Further reference: The Virtual Sublime, C. Francis ©1999

Schools visits:

Crescent Arts and the artist welcome enquiries from schools and groups who wish to visit the exhibition at normal opening times, or at other times by prior arrangement. Please contact Susan Timmins or Stuart Cameron at Crescent Arts by phone or email to make arrangements. Tel: 01723 351461 (please indicate for attention of Susan Timmins)


Crescent Artspace at Queen Street is a fully accessible location including easy wheelchair access from the street. Crescent Artspace at Queen Street is financially assisted by the Development Trust Association and The Meanwhile Project, in partnership with Scarborough Borough Council’s Civic Pride ‘Windows to the Borough’ and Town Centre Management. It is part of Scarborough’s art and regeneration initiative.



Wavelengths – A commissioned work for the Spa hoarding


Helen Donnelly’s Wavelengths is a recently completed commission to create a treatment for the temporary hoarding constructed during renovations to the Spa in Scarborough this summer. It’s a vibrant colour-wave which changes according to viewpoint, ranging from close up to distant vantage points across the South Bay. This is Helen Donnelly’s second large scale public work this year, following her inaugural site-work at Crescent Artspace in Queen Street. Thanks are due to Scarborough Borough Council, especially Doug Kendall, who had the vision and imagination to commission the work.


An Exhibition of Space


Monday 2nd – Friday 6th August 2010
11.00 am – 5.00 pm
Admission free

Open Arms Workshop Open Day
Saturday 14th August, 11.00 am – 5.00 pm

Jonathan Green’s An Exhibition of Space has emerged from a broader range of concerns embodied in his work ’20 days, 20 projects’ which he initiated on moving into a studio at Crescent Arts in 2009. Jonathan’s work and ideas move across dimensions (2:3:4) with consummate ease, a dynamic curiosity and creative intensity. Each project or proposition to date of ’20 days, 20 Projects’ is captured in an image created within the space of a day; a collection of prototypes if you like. It is from one such proposition that An Exhibition of Space has evolved through the additional opportunity to work within a specific architectural context at Crescent Artspace in Queen Street.

“I am investigating the relationship between sculpture and architecture specifically through the perception of space”.

Perception, in this case, is not simply visual but incorporates various senses on the part of the visitor experiencing and engaging with the work.

Modular elements, in this instance fabricated to order from aluminum sheets of a standard size, are used to partition and dissect the existing architectural space. The ‘raw material’ already possesses architectural and industrial qualities in its physical and dimensional properties and characteristics, and in its relation to human scale.

The use of such elements and material brings to mind early Bauhaus experiments with processes of mass production, concepts such as ‘The Minimal Dwelling’, and the work of Moholy Nagy exploring light and space. The possibility of sculpture as modular, variable, incorporating space as much as solid, has since evolved through the work of artists such as Donald Judd, Carl Andre and Robert Morris. The focus on the modular to create a fusion between architecture and sculpture is particularly interesting in that these are spaces which carry the potential to inhabit, and bear a relation to work such as Absalon’s ‘Cellules’ and Andrea Zittel’s ‘Compartment Units’. The notion of intervention in a given architectural space, adds yet another dimension to the work and intentions of the artist. The threshold between sculpture and architecture may be a matter of perception – of scale, materials, space, actions, behaviour and intention – through which An Exhibition of Space invites further investigation.

Open Arms Workshop Open Day
Saturday 14th August, 11.00 am – 5.00 pm

The initial exhibition is open for 5 days only from 2nd to 6th August after which Jonathan will lead a week of workshops with young people through Open Arms and 4Youth, North Yorkshire County Council. Jonathan will work with small groups through the week, developing their ideas and using recycled materials and found objects to explore the sculptural and architectural potential of the space. Their work is guaranteed to transform the space yet again and will be on view to the public on the Open Arms Workshop Open Day on Saturday 14th August from 11.00am to 5.00pm. Expect the unexpected!


Work by 3rd Year Fine Art Students from Yorkshire Coast College

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Diann Atkin, Carrie Jackson, Holly Major, Carmen Mills
Saturday 3rd July and Sunday 4th July 2010
11.00 am – 5.00 pm
Crescent Artspace14/15 Queen Street, Scarborough
Admission free

4X4 is the work of four third-year Fine Art students from Yorkshire Coast College in Scarborough. Crescent Arts offered these four artists the opportunity to develop their work as part of our continuing programme at Crescent Artspace in Queen Street. Artists are invited to work directly in the space itself, and each of these artists has brought elements of their studio practice to bear, whilst responding to the particular characteristics of the space. Materials of agricultural origin, abstract wall painting, and iconography of contemporary culture mesh with the fabric of the building, its scale and traces of previous activities. The work is of a temporary nature and open for public viewing for one weekend only on Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th July.


New Work


Crescent Artspace & Crescent Arts Studios
Saturday 8th May – Satuday 12th June 2010
Thursday to Saturday 1.00pm – 6.00pm
Wednesdays by appointment
Admission is free

Crescent Arts is pleased to announce a dual-site presentation of new work by the painter Helen Donnelly. The exhibition marks the first large scale site-specific work to be produced at the former auction room at 14/15 Queen Street in Scarborough, now Crescent Artspace. Helen is a resident artist at Crescent Arts who has, for some time, expressed strong interest in working directly within a site, engaging with its architectural topography and scale, and extending her work beyond the confines of the studio. Her painting is firmly rooted in the traditions and history of Western European art, whilst at the same time she explores a singular vision linked to her individual experience of the landscape and built environment. A selection of her paintings and drawings, produced over the past year, can also be seen at Crescent Arts Studios exhibition space below Scarborough Art Gallery in The Crescent.

Crescent Artspace at 14/15 Queen Street, Scarborough, YO11 1HA
Crescent Artstudios, The Crescent, Scarborough, YO11 2PW

What am I looking at?

An interrogation of Helen Donnelly’s New Work By Simon Farid



What am I looking at? Is it about space? About eyes, about seeing. Looking. Essentially, I’m looking at a flat plane. On the canvas, definitely yes. In the room in Queen St, maybe less so. But is it flat? My eyes say no. It moves; shapes fall in. I duck out of the way as a cube falls onto my foot. Would I call this illusion? The paintings are still. It’s my eyes that move them. In fact, it’s my eyes that are moving. Darting around the plane, different shapes emerge and recede. I’m engaged in the painting process itself, that of adding and subtracting, moving shapes and colours around the canvas, finding my own conclusion.

To read more about Helen Donnelly by Simon Farid, view What am I looking at?


‘A search for Liz’s agency within the different spatial planes of a re-constructed ancient Alexandria (attempt 1)’


Saturday 6th – Saturday 20th March 2010
Daily between 11.30 am – 5.30 pm (except Sundays)

Wednesday 10th March at 1.00pm.
Simon will lead an informal discussion about the work at Queen Street. Admission is free.

Why look for someone’s agency? I mean, is it of a cultural significance? You know, when, like, the council could be paying for a better army or more jails for paedophiles instead. And is Liz’s particular agency of relevance to your life? Is anyone’s? Is yours?

Agency is artspeak. Well, actually it isn’t, its just intelligent. And important. Like the velocity-addition formula – something that effects ones life everyday, but which doesn’t matter in a type of concrete practical way. Its still there.

For me, when we watch ‘Cleopatra (1963)’, what happens on (or in) the screen offers itself well to this sort of inquiry. You find yourself not sure what you are watching. When Liz kisses Rich, which Liz can we see? Are we seeing a woman in love? Or an actor kissing another actor in a Hollywood scripted film? Are we watching a representation of Ancient Egypt and Rome, or a post-modern construction of phantasy and fashion, read through a western colonialist frame?

If we are just watching actors (fraud), can Liz ever truly kiss Rich? The paparazzi render most of her other kisses fraudulent too, and our own minds produce a narrative to cover the ones unseen, those behind closed doors, in luxury hotels. (Further for us, our own CCTV kisses, ever captured, represented and re-produced, offer our own personal paparazzos, added to by facebook and an ever-expanding mesh of null representation, for which we must perform.)

So where is Liz? Not Liz the image- the hot, beautiful, soft, flawed idea of a woman we see and know. I mean Elizabeth, the person, making decisions and using her own body. Can she make decisions? Where? Not when she is acting, her words are pre-written, her body becomes a vessel, merely enacting what is asked of it. But once outside the studio, she still does not control her image, others control it. Not only how it looks, but worse, what it means.

This is not only happening to Liz. Alexandria suffers the same violence, and soon we emerge with a history that can substitute, and indeed is, the present. Liz’s body becomes occupied in the same way Egypt was and is, both made real by the authority of it projected image in the cinema. This is what the world looks like; there is no other way.

So I look for Liz. She is obscured by the painted backgrounds that Cleopatra was filmed through. We lose part of her when she rehearses her scenes, learning other peoples’ words and ideas. She finds herself in a new constructed space, not real, not especially fake – as constructed as everything else, so why not? Can she really be there? And then we have a kiss. With her boyfriend. Does it feel like a real kiss? Maybe more so to us, though we know it is scripted. A kiss that will repeat and repeat, becoming a new history. Is she in there, or are we watching something else?

Simon Farid 2010