At the Lighthouse
8 November – 1 December 1991
The Lighthouse, London E14
"The lighthouse is empty, deserted, saturated in absence, an island at the edge of the flickering glacial rim of the new city: the carcass of a cyclops, its eye extinguished and removed."
Brian Catling has been writing in the lighthouse at Trinity Buoy Wharf in preparation for the installation he is making there for Matt's Gallery. This work is the result of this time spent listening to its gutted and empty space and is inspired and directed by its atmosphere and history. Catling turns the lantern which has been removed into an inward-looking metaphor, searching out the remaining traces of its mythical history, 'relighting it with fiction'.
Trinity Buoy Wharf was once the centre of waterway maintenance for the docks and a print from 1896 shows it as a crowded and thriving workplace with buoys of every shape and size sitting upon the quayside. It now awaits redevelopment.
Catling is a sculptor, poet and performance artist who is obsessed by the atmosphere of place. He articulates words, objects and action to create a 'symbiotic' total. These are transient works which chose their habitat with great care, and have included a wide range of sites: the Victoria and Albert Museum, a disused salt silo, and sites organised by museums and galleries in Britain, Germany, Norway, Ireland, Denmark and Switzerland.
Many of these events are evocatively described in the publication which accompanies the exhibition, SOUNDINGS: A TRACTATE OF ABSENCE. A 48 page book with colour and black and white illustrations, it marks the development of Catling's work since he finished the Henry Moore Fellowship at Norwich in 1986. The text was written at the lighthouse by Catling and gives an account of his singular way of working, synthesising sculptural installation, text and image.
Matt's Gallery and the artist thank the Museum of London and Trinity House for their help with this project. At The Lighthouse is a Matt's Gallery off-site location.