Colin Reid and Jim Partridge

Colin Reid and Jim Partridge

11 June to 24 July 2004

Participating makers:
Colin Reid
Jim Partridge


For all its modernity, there is also a distinct sense of history about Jim Partridge's work - not just history in the inherent age of the wood of course, but in the almost ceremonial presence of some of these forms. His single seat block, for example, has the simplicity of a throne for a Saxon king or prelate. The nesting tables appear quite ritualistic, but unlike Brancusi's equally direct carving, these are strongly functional pieces, distilled and condensed for their essential purpose in life.

Despite the unseasoned solidity of this wood, its forthright uncompromising conception, the work is also modest and understated, a very intimate enrichment of inside and outside, of park and woodland. Quietly attuned to its surroundings, this furniture fulfils with ease its various roles, but these chairs, tables, benches and bridges also work as beautiful objects, succinct and self-contained. How wonderful, to be able to use them as well - to really experience the flexing structure of wood as part of daily life. Partridge's work is both monumental and domestic, the blackened oak grain sealed but still breathing.

A family seat, divided and spread out in curving or L-shaped sections from one rectangular piece, preserves the cut and integrity of the original block - and in an improvised, almost playful way. Simple ideas are always the best. Shapes like this, for example too his curved bench, are conversant, suggesting community, the empathy of sitting, the prospect beyond - a place to think, talk and see. From the stretching bridges to the boldly concentrated vessels, these objects are complete in themselves, but become an integral presence. They enter the rhythms of our space. This is why Partridge's work is so humane; it is meant for us.

David Whiting 2004



Colin Reid has long been drawn to nature. Using various moulding methods in the making of his kiln-cast glass, this resourceful artist has become fascinated by materials already worked on by craftsmen in an earlier age - wood and stone for example - with their own stories to tell.
Who carved them? What lives did these people lead? The anonymity of such artefacts has drawn Reid into a closer examination, making moulds of age-worn fragments, then translated into glass. He recently took advantage of the high-rise scaffolding on Gloucester Cathedral to make casts of the decaying stonework, and his studio is currently littered with Romanesque and Gothic decorative details. Here is carving that itself took inspiration from the natural world, interpreted in bosses, ball-flowers and quatrefoils. He makes geometric or more organic forms, subjected to long herculean processes of firing, grinding, sandblasting and polishing - in which the imprint of this medieval sculpture is abstractly manifest, but in the poetic clarity of modern glass.

A piece of ancient wooden fencing from the Elizabethan Charlcote Park, its timber eaten by the weather, has been cast into simple elemental back-to-back twin forms with an almost totemic presence - contrasting transparency with the opaque, one surface with another, the negative with the positive. But Reid also borrows from the present, his eclectic eye drawn to, for example, everyday articles of current consumerism that take on a quite new and ambiguous identity in the reflection and refraction of his work - moving from one context to another. In Reid's recent glass, there is a strong suggestion of retrieval, of celebrating what might be lost to time - a reversal back to the natural order. In these ethereal pieces, where the ghostly impression of other creative hands, the traces and markings of history is experienced, that sense of regeneration is powerful.

David Whiting 2004



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