Solo exhibition at Pi Artworks, London
Curated by Debbie Meniru
20 – 30 September
‘Jyll Bradley’s exhibition at Pi Artworks is a pitch-perfect triumph. You might think of it all as self-portraiture, as literal self-reflection. The materials, the scale and the body negotiating its space.’
Andrew Renton, Professor of Curating, Goldsmith’s College.
Within a Budding Grove takes its title from the second volume of Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, which follows the protagonist’s adolescence and his increasing sense of self-awareness. As a teenager, Jyll Bradley spent a lot of time sitting in her family’s greenhouse in rural Kent observing the play between sunlight and glass, a visual language that has remained integral to her work since the 1980s. This exhibition of works across sculpture, photography, film and drawing reflects central themes in Bradley’s work: identity, light and place through a process she describes as ‘queering minimalism.’
Recent, light-reactive sculptures titled Grafts, using her signature fluorescent edge lit Plexiglas titled Grafts (2023) – which share the dimensions of Bradley’s height and which she sees as self-portraits – hang beside hitherto unseen photographic self-portraits taken in the late 1980’s. These highly personal images hint at her desire as a young queer woman to be seen and understood but also to hide away, obscuring her face from the camera and turning to abstraction in her art as a way to express the strange and unexpected.
In Umbrella Work (2023), a series of new drawings based on the mesmerising geometry of the hop gardens of Bradley’s childhood landscape she repeats complex linear patterns across blue carbon paper. These intricate works have the character of an architectural blueprint or a personal DNA, the patterns of life that shape and form us.
The exhibition also includes Bradley’s first film Brigitte (2017). Here, through the passage of the sun and time-lapse photography she captures a ‘day in the life’ of one of her public sculptures on its wall-mounted home beside a railway line in Folkestone, Kent.
Text by Curator Debbie Meniru: