Focal Point Gallery is pleased to present the first solo exhibition in a public gallery by Southend-born artist, Rick Buckley. This new series of works will be split between the gallery and the Pavilion at the end of Southend’s pier – the first time the gallery has installed work on this iconic landmark.
In the Pavilion’s main space, Buckley presents a three screen video installation, End of The Pier, which is shot on and around this 1.2 mile structure throughout the night and inspired by the pier’s eventful history of fires and vessel collisions. The work examines the structure in detail, from the abandoned lower decks, to the deep piles that connect it to the shoreline. The pier is built on the prime habitat of local Oysters, which feature prominently in the film, clinging to the pier’s ageing metalwork. Filmed using Steadicam technology, the hauntingly vacant imagery, infers a malevolent force at work in the pier’s unlucky history and alludes to these benign molluscs’ role in these reoccurring disasters.
Inside Focal Point Gallery, a large sculpture of a rock formation forms the base for a model of the town’s Civic Chamber; a building embodying much of the 60s and 70s architecture that dominates the area’s vernacular. As the centrepiece of the town’s civic quarter, it was here that Buckley studied in the adjacent (now abandoned) art college before leaving the town in 1984. Many of these buildings (including the former library where the gallery was previously based) are no longer considered sustainable or suitable. The model, which periodically emits an assimilation of recorded sounds recalling alchemical processes, symbolises two contrasting forces within man’s nature; destructiveness and creation/renewal.
Alongside this, Buckley presents two films shot using super-8 film that focus on the 20th century sculpture and fountain by British artist William Mitchell, which is located in the central square outside the council’s Civic Centre and the nearby ponds of Churchill Gardens, the site of a former brickworks, used for constructing the majority of central Southend’s architecture during the early 19th Century. These films animate the shapes and patterns associated with The Dreamachine, a devise for inducing hallucinogenic imagery, invented by the Beat poet and painter Brion Gysin in the early 1960’s. Gysin’s Dreamachine and cut-up poetry influenced Buckley’s early art practice whilst studying at Southend College.
The project’s title ‘Black Bile 84’ alludes to ancient medicinal practices and belief that the body was comprised of four humours, in which the excess production of black bile within the spleen, was believed to resulted in an emotional state of melancholia. By splitting the art works between two ends of the town, the audience is also physically and psychically directed through the town – an extension of the artist’s wider interest in metaphysical journeys.
Both parts of the project consider the extent to which Southend-on-Sea is changing. While this fits in amongst broader discussions of regeneration in regional coastal towns, Buckley presents a deliberately subjective appraisal, following his departure from the town and desire to consider the personal implications of transformations to its fabric.
Rick Buckley was born in Westcliff-on-Sea in 1962 and currently lives and works in Berlin. Buckley has exhibited in institutions including, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2014), Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin (2014), CGP, London (2013), Autocenter, Berlin (2012), Focal Point Gallery, Southend-on- Sea (2012), Pump House Gallery, London (2009/2010) and Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool (2009/2010).