An exhibition featuring works by renowned English artist Bridget Riley is currently on view at Narborough Hall.
It was 60 years ago this autumn that she published the Fragments, when she used making screen prints as a way of experimenting with an entirely new material, Plexiglas.
“We were excited about trying new materials – we all wanted the new,” Riley explains. Plexiglas, clean, clear, fresh and synthetic, symbolised the sense of new beginning of the 1960s. The printing was to be done directly on the back of a plastic sheet. The black figure was printed first, the white ground added afterwards: the completed image was immediately visible through the transparent material.
There was no need for the prints to be covered with glass, which had attracted Riley to experiment with the material in the first place. Her intuition proved sound: the transparency of the Plexiglas seems to give the prints a new sort of life, these Fragments seem to have floated in from another world, where visual sensations can become entities in themselves. Perfectly realised, they still look as if they had been finished yesterday, dazzling in their composure and completeness.
Over the years they suffered greatly, becoming less and less appreciated in the 1980s and 1990s so that by the end of that decade they were being sold , if at all, on ebay. They were treated as throw away momentos of a forgotten era. Their lack of glazing meant that they were often damaged so few have survived.
In the last 15 years their beauty has again been recognised with a younger generation, typically born after they were made, appreciating them anew.
The entire collection is on view at Narborough Hall’s Old Kitchen as well as other works from different moments of the artist’s career from early experiments in colour to through to the early 1990s which produced some of her best work.
The exhibition continues to Sunday, November 29, open 11am-4pm Wednesdays to Sundays.