Those Who Look Out and Those Who Look Back by Laura Eldret & Paul Vivian


Friday 9th July 10:00am – Sunday 22nd August 2021 4:00pm

God's House Tower

‘a space’ arts remains committed to supporting regional artists, and we are thrilled to present work by two Hampshire practitioners for the third exhibition in the Contemporary Gallery. Laura Eldret and Paul Vivian will show work inspired by GHT’s location on Southampton’s iconic waterfront.


About the work

We humans consume the sea through objects and images – souvenirs, leisurewear, watercolours – as if to tame it. But it looks back, fiercely. Swelling and rolling, it carries precarious communities of humans in an embrace that is both nurturing and disciplining, a place of potential violence. Laura Eldret and Paul Vivian’s two-person exhibition ruptures the space of God’s House Tower, with sculpture, fabric works and video that reflect forms of the sea. Here the sea is mothering and scolding, returning our glances with a warning that her powers are oceanic.   

Paul Vivian’s works play with and upend clichés of the sea as a place of vicarious consumption or passive spectacle. Arranged in the space are a set of beach towels with specially printed imagery: a swelling ocean, an oversized pebble and giant droplet. Nearby are a suite of 30 identical sea-farers cast in plaster by Paul from an original ceramic collectible designed by the Bosson company in the mid-twentieth century. Their faces seem to pop out of the gallery floor, looking up with strange melancholy, as if gasping for air on the cusp of sinking beneath the waves. In these works, Paul inverts the logic of oceanic kitsch, revealing once more the deadly force of the sea through a judicious altering of scale, position and materials. Paul’s sculptures are both material facts and distillations of social narratives, retold with pithy brevity.

Laura Eldret’s works explore the sea from the perspective of its manifold inhabitants. A fabric piece hangs down, constructed from blankets and black neoprene (the material of wetsuits). The work opens up questions around bodies, nurturing and survival. Laura’s video work invokes the clichés of the sea-as-female – alluring, deadly or motherly. Featuring footage of bodies of water, boats zipping along, and a woman’s legs beneath the surface, the video is edited in rapid intercuts between vertical and horizontal lines, creating an intense and haptic rhythm. These edits are based on the dots and dashes of Morse code, a motif that also appears on the fabric work. Laura’s wider concern with social forms of communication is also evident in a staging of a performance in the gallery by an all-male sea-shanty choir. Laura’s works are visceral reflections on the embodied and gendered communities, rites and rituals of the sea.


God’s House Tower will be open Friday/Saturday 10am-5pm and Sunday 10am-4pm

Plan your visit here