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Urban dystopias at Black Swan Arts

Black Swan Arts in Frome is hosting a new exhibition of paintings by the winner of the Black Swan Arts Open 2016, Steve Burden, inspired by dystopian themes associated with housing estates.

‘Utopian Myths’ features work informed by Steve’s childhood growing up on the Pepys Estate in Deptford, south London. As well as the architecture and history of the estate, he also explores social issues affecting urban spaces, such as security, isolation, control, gang culture and population density.

He says, “Growing up in an urban jungle, surrounded by out-of-scale concrete fortresses, has inevitably informed my development and visual aesthetic as an artist.”

Now based in Wedmore, Somerset, Steve graduated from Goldsmiths College with First Class Honours and Bath Spa University with a master’s degree in fine art.

Photo-collage forms the bedrock of Steve’s paintings, but layering is also an important aspect of his work, both in terms of building up layers of paint and accumulating multiple readings, so creating a more complex narrative.

In some works, layers of paint are removed, allowing the pigment to leach and take on the patina of stained concrete. This is followed by areas of overpainting during which parts of the image are obliterated. He also experiments with the viscosity of the paint and the way it can be dragged across the surface, allowing some areas to permeate whilst obscuring others.

‘Utopian Myths’ runs at Black Swan Arts from 13th May to 10th June, with a preview evening on Friday 12th May from 6–8pm, which all are welcome to attend. Steve will also be taking part in a Q&A session on Thursday 18th May at 7.30pm as part of this year’s Museums at Night initiative: museumsatnight.org.uk

The painting, Abattoir, which won the Open, is going on tour as part of the ‘Alternate Visions: Undiscovered Art from the South West’ exhibition organised by Pallant House Gallery. The show opens at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery on 3rd June and then moves on to Falmouth, Cheltenham and Poole.

For further information about the exhibition please contact Emma Warren at Black Swan Arts on 01373 473980, office@black swan.org.uk or visit www.blackswan.org.uk.