Laura Onions Corresponding Notes

1 March – 13 April 2020


Through the duration of drye eyes, artist Laura Onions took residence at Grand Union, developing newly-commissioned writing in dialogue with Lauren’s work. 

Four text instalments considered the materiality of writing in different ways, from different points of departure that draw out and upon themes in the exhibition. The relationship between text and surface was explored within each ‘corresponding note.’ The texts were available to pick up in the gallery.

For the closing of the exhibition and residency on Saturday 13th April, Grand Union staff, public and invited guests joined together for discussion and reflection on the show and corresponding notes.

NotE I

Corresponding Notes I: Holding Breath

An inhale taken too far becomes full or stuffed. An exhale taken to an extreme becomes pressing. Exhaled air moves from high pressure to low pressure. The increased pressure in the lungs propels air outward. 

My relationship with drye eyes coincides with learning how to sing in an opera. Never have I been more aware of how air fills my lungs. 

Singing is amplified breathing, colouring the sound of exhalation. Slowly sip in.

Breath meets voice – a convergence. This space of inbetween is the moment just before sound is formed. There is anticipation and intent. Inhale. Practice ten “gasps” with mouth open, shoulders down, and swelling out all around the waist…Hold [this position] as long as possible. 

Retain breath. All is translucent, a shimmer not able to be touched. 

Outward breath is shaped and altered, sensitive to non-linear systems, complexity and atmosphere, the volume of space. Practice ten “gasps” closing the mouth as if saying “oo.” Do you feel the “hollowness?” Breath and an awareness of breath contributes to our consciousness of self. Exhale slowly and fully; sing.

A well timed returning pulse of air flow. An ensemble is resonating with those around you. Voice is elemental, slippery and liminial. These are the fluid dynamics of singing that prolong the duration of exhalation. 

Glass partially filled with fluid has its own resonant frequency. Listen to the pitch of the singing city rise until the scientific glass might break.  

Blown glass objects and vessels sit in three shallow vitrines of different sizes filled with water lie on the floor.

Note II

Corresponding Notes II: cutting-together-apart

Swimmer in light absorbing black, a mammal with trajectory and intent gone off course. [Stranded cetaceans have long intrigued naturalists because their causation has escaped singular explanations]. A pilot where it is not supposed to be, collapsing under its own weight leads us to question causality and agency. 

A disjoin is created, between land and sea. What was before and after – either side – makes new shapes out of things. This is a peculiar and distinctive kind of agency reminding us of our materiality. 

Arriving in a new place is a joining up with a collection of interwoven stories of which that place is made. The pilot travels across trajectories – land, sea, rural, industrical, canal, rooftop – moments significant but passing.

A piece of black neoprene lies on the ground, out of this rises a steel spiral sculpture that reaches towards the ceiling.


Corresponding Notes III: Arriving/Leaving

Every time she makes sense of something, she has to move over. Here-there, the boundaries don’t hold up. Most of the time people fill in spaces with the familiar – but she does not subscribe to the wisdom of what you see is what you get. 

She was almost certain in her observations, that bands of light could be found inside the edge of a shadow. Shapes appeared on the wall and suggested answers. I can’t make them out. Read them.

She – with no concrete name – looked out of the window, spotting the occasional sunlight in shiny puddles, there’s litter in them. A concoction that we are all reflected in. She couldn’t tell where the edge was for one thing or the next. Things change here, whenever I look again it is sure to be something else. 

She tried an experiment whereby sunlight performs as a fluid. In meeting an obstacle the light breaks up, moving outwards. Internal seals – airtraps – condensers – double surface – syphon tubes – vacuum tubes – spinning glass. Things appear to be transparent and turn out to be opaque. A writing diamond or an abrasive pencil are the ways in which to record the surface interference.

It is a surprise, an interruption by the stranger unannounced that draws her attention. The outside appears inside, although it had never arrived or left in the first place. 

Didn’t you hear the sound on the roof? 

Uttering the unutterable is sometimes a phrase, sometimes the words seem juxtaposed to each other. I have my illusions, the stranger has theirs. Often the recipient doesn’t get the message.

A miniature fire exit door affixed to a white gallery ceiling.


Corresponding Notes IV: Ensemble

The final instalment was created in response to the exhibition closing event. Members of the public and gallery staff made notes during discussions in relation to Lauren Gault’s work and Laura’s previous writing instalments. Following this, Laura compiled the notes into a final text, retaining hand written and drawn elements by participants.

Wide exhibition view three vitrines filled with water are scattered across the floor, two "s" shaped steel sculptures rise from the floor.
Exhibition view, 2019, Lauren Gault.