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HAMPSTEAD AND HIGHGATE EXPRESS - DECEMBER 6th 1991

 

REVIEW
By Linda Talbot
 

MARKS'S SPARKS IGNITE EMPTY ROOM

HELENE MARKS was undaunted when confronted by the empty room overlooking the Thames. Although commanding an impressive view, it was coldly masculine; the sole suggestion of how its potential might be fulfilled apparent in a few concessionary curves. Yet this designer, who lives in Frognal Lane, Hampstead, was soon evolving a show flat where she has introduced paintings, sculpture and ceramics that are a cut above the average and humanise the rooms while maintaining a sense of space. The three‑bedroomed flat is at Riverside One, a development by Foster Associates in Hester Road, Battersea. And Helene Marks creates essential warmth and an aura of calm, enhanced by the flow of water viewed from wide windows.

Tranquillity, through the introduction of contemporary works, is her hallmark. "I like to think I'm sculpting with space," she says. "I introduce people slowly to paintings, so they can gain confidence and get to know them in their own time."

For her, a house is like a living organism; an integrated extension of its owners, combining the functional with a flexible feel for beauty, although this flat may be bought with or without its art works.
A latter‑day Renaissance woman, she is resolved to uniting artists, designers and architects; an audacious ideal in an age of specialization. She proved how effectively this could be achieved six years ago when she transformed the interior of the show house at the Firecrest Development in Branch Hill, Hampstead.

In the large living room at Riverside One, she echoes the curves in its occasional inbuilt columns, extending from shelves to the concept of the curve in many of the works themselves.
The paintings in the lounge, by Derek Hirst, are abstract distillations, inviting contemplation. There is a night‑dark sea, while other impressions prompted by the tide are calm combinations that seem equally drawn from the effects of light. Walking the Dog is restfully reddish with a mergence of paler tones; evoking a sense of infinity.

In the hall, Rebecca Salter's acrylics are subdued, reminiscent of meditative mosaics. She was influenced by Japanese cultural restraint. Conversely, in the bedrooms, there are figurative drawings, with substance and decisive movement, by West Hampstead artist Geoffrey Lawrence. Jack Smith offers intriguing objects for contemplation and in the kitchen there is an impression of Greenwich in a screenprint by AlbertI Irwin.

The prevailingly cautious yet warming elements of colour are reflected in ceramics. In the lounge the deep bowls and forms of Mo Abdulla of St Pancras Way, who has long been associated with Camden School of Art, are subtly toned, like the nuances of nature, while the coiled vessels of Christine Jones are harmoniously contained, in shades of blue, grey and green. This ceramicist explains: "I'm interested in the essence of an object and I found I could express my feelings and ideas through the elemental shape of a bowl. I use the ancient technique of coiling which offers a separate language, letting forms evolve directly, each with individuality, capturing a thought and a quality which isn't achieved in other ways. 'The bowl is then carved and refined and in this way a delicately textured surface is created.! like earthenware clays for their softness and warmth. The body is coloured with oxides that give subtlety and depth. As a unity of curves and circles absorbing and reflecting light and shadow, the form constantly changes. I aim to mix an archaic quality with contemporary design."

Gabrielle Koch, who lives in Archway Road, Highgate, also conveys calm through her ceramics, including a bowl that might be reflecting pale cloud, and Suzanne Bergne gently streaks her open dish in porcelain.

In a bedroom designed in black and white, there is a small blue bowl by Abdo Nagi who was brought up in North Yemen. While watching his father's goats to the mountains he was fascinated by the shapes, textures and colours of natural objects, particularly pebbles and rocks. Later, settling in England, he studied ceramics at Middlesex Polytechnic where he gained a BA degree with honours. There are other bowls, in smoke grey, blue and green, by Manette Beresford in the pale blue bedroom.

In metal, there is a bronze dog by Nicola Hicks, strategically placed by the window, Michael Savage contributes podlike vessels in steel and Gillian Newton conveys the curved essence of a swan.
Mike Scott works on a bold scale in wood, as in an impressive bowl in burr and elm. Having ingested the techniques of many cultures, Scott then sought his own spontaneous authenticity. "I'm influenced by mood and circumstance, while trying to be innovative," he says. "Sometimes I follow through specific themes, or I might be excited by a new idea and go off at a tangent. I enjoy the challenges and risks that are part of the process. Wood is alive; it moves, shrinks, puckers and splits, constantly coming up with new possibilities."

The furniture, complementing the flat's pervasive calm, was designed by Helene Marks and made by Mick Young.

Anyone interested in buying works can contact Helene Marks on 071‑431 3170 and potential buyers of the flat should get in touch with Philip Woolf, of Druce, on 071‑5813771.

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