Essex Road IV Edwina Ashton, Chloe Dewe Mathews, Benedict Drew, Judith Goddard, Matthew Noel-Tod, Paul Tarragó, Richard Wentworth, Xiaowen Zhu

8 December – 13 January 18


Edwina Ashton, Forest Bred Lions, 2017,

‘And each December, up the Essex Road lumber twenty huge caravans…’ Edwina Ashton’s film, Forest Bred Lions, draws upon the marvel and magic of theatrical illusion – alluding to a time when spectacular circus acts and other ‘wonders of the world’ appeared annually in the Islington Agricultural Halls (now the Business Design Centre). Ashton has shaped a surreal, poetic interweaving of image and text.
EDWINA ASHTON makes films, drawings and objects featuring awkward animal characters that stand in for the human. Her hand-drawn, animated films hinge on the mismatch between our dreams and humdrum reality – offering absurdist narratives observing the everyday subtleties of human behaviour.

Chloe Dewe Mathews, A Message to the Viewer, 2017,

Dewe Mathews’ film is a response to the systematic cataloguing of Islington streets undertaken in 1996 by Stanley Kubrick for what became his last film, Eyes Wide Shut. The location photographs, stored in folders at the London College of Communication, became tantalisingly out of reach; Dewe Mathews was allowed to see them but not to reproduce them. She has crafted instead, a film about filmmaking - an unfilm - a narrative about wanting to make a film and not being able to make a film.
CHLOE DEWE MATHEWS is known for ambitious photographic documentary projects that investigate sites and localities. For Caspian she spent five years in the countries that surround the Caspian Sea, exploring the unexpected ways in which humans are linked to the resource-rich landscape. Thames Log was a more personal journey in which she encountered people along the length of the river Thames – investigating the symbolic use of water and contemporary ritual in the British landscape. 

Benedict Drew, Incantation to rid this place of cars, without the help of Elon Musk (Essex road dub), 2017,

Benedict Drew’s film is a mesmerising invocation, summoning a rebellious defiance…’Tarmac Be Gone’.
BENEDICT DREW’s videos and multi-media installations offer a fantastical, giddy, almost hallucinatory sensory experience. His work comments on socio-political themes, particularly digital technology, and voices a critical protest against authority and control.

Judith Goddard, DerangeX, 2017,

DerangeX reflects on the outcome of the British referendum to leave the EU. It’s a short animated abstract work, which draws on the voter’s glyph, a diagonal cross, set to the Carlos version of the European Anthem. Singly and as a repeated motif, the X glyph marks both that moment of allegiance and a shared binary form of notation - pulsating in a variation of rhythm and colour.
JUDITH GODDARD’s work spans three decades of moving image. Known for her ground-breaking immersive large-scale video installations dating from the 1980’s, her practice incorporates a diverse range of media, including photography, drawing, sculpture, and print. Vision and time, from both a personal and historical perspective are fundamental constituents of Goddard’s aesthetic, informed by a highly adept process of observation, selection and construction. 

Matthew Noel-Tod, Untitled (Pickering Street), 2017,

Untitled (Pickering Street) is a forensic close-up of the gutter, where the road meets the pavement, walking along Pickering Street, to the junction of Essex Road, opposite the window of the gallery. The study of the ground reveals a micro-narrative of present day London. The film is a single shot merging the forms of cinema’s early ‘phantom ride’ films and a pseudo-approximation of hand-painted, collaged filmstrip work. Through the rubbish mingled with nature we see the footprint of human life under late-capitalism.
MATTHEW NOEL-TOD’s film and video work combines references from early cinema, avant garde film, text messaging, internet technology, CGI animation, philosophy and literature. His 2012 film Bang!, featuring talking dogs in Victoria Park, takes the audience on an idiosyncratic journey from Plato to the 2011 London riots. His work questions how new technology mediates our lived experience.

Paul Tarragó, gadabout (guided by pigeons), 2017,

A kinetic combination of live-action, stop-motion and table-top animation, Tarragó’s film gadabout (guided by pigeons) uses that very fine bird the feral/ domestic rock pigeon (Columba Livia) as a recurrent figure in Essex Road. Tarragó has also been inspired by early cinema pioneer Robert W Paul, born in Highbury, who popularised the short film format, particularly ‘trick’ and news films. A 25 fps flick book of a film: trickery and news.
PAUL TARRAGÓ is an artist filmmaker whose work is a mix of underground experimentation and meta-fiction. His ‘Badger’ series plays on the conventions of children’s television but with a droll, deadpan humour that allows the big issues of existence to be approached, dissected, and explored in a remarkably subversive way.

Ricard Wentworth, And There Again..., 2017,

“The city is full of bits of lost information – I have a great appetite for faults, breaks, cracks and seams.” In And There Again…,Richard Wentworth walks the immediate area of Essex Road near Tintype – impromptu observations, architectural details, clashes and collisions – “how things begin, how things meet, how things end”.
Improvised placement is a leitmotif of RICHARD WENTWORTH’s work. His recent book ‘Making Do and Getting By’ is a record of his observations of human actions; the marks and traces left on the urban landscape. Happenstance – the public and the private, exchange and sharing – fuel his curiosity. Many of his photographs have been taken on walks through the streets of Islington, where he lives.

Xiaowen Zhu, Brief Encounters on the Milky Way, 2017,

Zhu’s film Brief Encounters on the Milky Way documents the encounters of an astronaut on Essex Road. Walking down the street and standing behind a large shop-window, the astronaut appears to be a test of tolerance and openness towards something unusual, unfamiliar and unexpected. Passers-by, attracted and bemused by the bizarre sight, become participants in this brief encounter.
XIAOWEN ZHU is an artist, filmmaker and writer whose work communicates the complex experience of being a diasporic person. Her film Oriental Silks, (2015) explored the story of one shop, a silk emporium in Los Angeles, revealing the intricate relationship between people and objects in a migrant world. The Details Are Invented (2017) features the character of a flâneur  – a ‘foreigner’ who strolls London like a walking camera.