Slow Wet Tar Exhibition

Slow Wet Tar (a fictional, but stubborn substance)


New work by Richard Schofield

Birmingham City University, Parkside campus, 5 Cardigan Street,  B4 7BD

Parkside atrium corridor (adjacent to main lifts)

16th April – 15th May 2016, 9am-5pm, (including Saturdays)

Preview Thursday 21 April, 4.30pm, all welcome.

Slow Wet Tar


A - Discontinuity:

Several lines of thought,  (almost) simultaneously. 

Familiar to us all during the course of the day; one distraction or preoccupation triggering another, from the need to amend our supermarket list, to feelings of frail mortality, and everything imbetween.  This life of fractions may perplex when applied to the audience experience of an exhibition, where a ‘body of work’ presents instead as a multiplex, a mix of semantics, and a mix of visual ‘languages’.  The convention is generally for the aesthetic to maintain a steady heading, a solid coherence, a singular, continuous visual presence. 

This convinces the audience of the vein of authenticity, and reassures the market-place of the continuous vein of salability; whether commercial or intellectual.

At the other extreme, there are individuals who have insisted on cultivating a stream of atypical work.  It’s about somewhere half-way between that interests me.  A couple of times during the hanging of the exhibition I was asked if the work was created by several individuals.  It’s interesting that stepping across boundaries still has an element of awkwardness to it. 

Discontinuity……the incursion of slow wet tar….a fictional, but stubborn substance.

B – The Rock Pool:

As a child I served a full apprenticeship in rock-pooling, drawn by the apparent total other-worldliness; staring into a universe whose complex and extraordinary system  does not necessarily co-exist with ours.  Escapism certainly, but, above all an exploration; close observation, acknowledgment of another universe, visitor to an alternative multiplex.


Natural history: - its scientific aspect, its mysterious aspect.  A precisely delineated and delicate visuality, but also a grand abstraction and a medium of continuously variable liquid distortions.  

C – Thinking with the hands:

The Italian chemist and writer Primo Levi (1919-1987) I refer to once in relation to four works (We Are Not Monsters) in the exhibition.  Completely unconnected is the fascinating observation that he made, in his profession as a research chemist, that, at one particular point during practical experimentation he had the sudden realization that he was thinking with his hands, rather than his brain.  This phenomenon was a revelation and also a kind of liberation.  Such a creative multiplex he crystallized in his 1971 short story, His Own Blacksmith:

Hands are tools to think with, much like the brain.  As you do things, other things come to your mind in a chain.