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Artist Louise Giovanelli responds to the collection at Touchstones Rochdale Art Gallery for her next exhibition.

I am delighted to have been invited to spend time working with and responding to the permanent collection at Touchstones Rochdale Art Gallery. Recently, in my practice I have been exploring alternative ways of looking and perceiving within the infinitely rich tradition of painting. Undertaking such a project, therefore, has enabled me to explore, develop and build upon these previous ideas.

The starting point for each piece in this exhibition was a pre-existing aspect or detail, an interesting element or peculiarity found within a painting taken from the permanent collection. This then functioned to provide coordinates, allowing an opportunity for re-appraisal and re-configuration.

There is a feeling of re-focusing and of re-framing. In this sense I have attempted to use painting as a camera, drawing attention to details within the collection that might otherwise be left overlooked, unexplored, or dismissed. Through a process of removing visual information, re-arranging, and re-contextualising details, I wanted the resulting works to take on new meanings and invite new interpretations. Hung together they appear as fragments, part of an unstable, uncertain and ultimately unknowable parallel narrative.

One particular painting Going to a Party by John Callcott Horsley functioned as the source material for the work Watcher. The distant expression of the figure on the left hand side struck me as the most compelling aspect of the composition. The girl centrally positioned and wearing a blue dress is foregrounded as the figure of most importance - the other figures all direct their gaze at her while she in turn looks at herself.

My response to this painting was to isolate, edit, enlarge, repeat and reverse the figure on the left from its context, to allow for a much more intense scrutiny of her curious, somewhat disapproving gaze.

The two ‘heads’ within Watcher retain their directional gaze, but their eyes now fall on an abstract red painting. They enter into a dialogue with the red painting – a reference to the red which appears within the Horsley painting, which creates a circular rhythmical movement.

These works present the act of looking and of re-searching, hinting to the process inherent within the project itself.

Louise Giovanelli, artist

You can see more of Louise Giovanelli's work at Touchstones Rochdale art gallery (Gallery 1) from 19th November 2016 to 4th March 2017.