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Naomi Frears: Looking for Ray, Part 3

11 September - 30 October 2021

The final show of our 2021 season is a new film work in three parts (Ray and Susie) by Naomi Frears. The Ray of the title is sculptor Ray Exworth (1930 – 2015). He lectured at the Royal College of Art and Royal Academy Sculpture School and came to Cornwall in 1959 to set up the sculpture department at Falmouth School of Art. For forty years he lived with Susie, his wife, and worked in relative seclusion at his home in Cornwall.

Frears was commissioned to make a moving image work that responded to the work and the world within the extraordinary sheds and buildings that house Ray’s sculptures. Kestle Barton has featured two previous exhibitions about Ray’s work because of the quality of his work together with the unique combination of care and chaos in the studios. Frears chose to focus not only on the atmosphere within the studios but on Susie, and her contribution to Ray’s working life.

Ray and Susie takes the form of three short films that, together, make a portrait of Ray’s work, of Susie, and of the house and life they shared in Cornwall. The work offers a sensitive insight into the creative process of Ray Exworth as well as a consideration of the importance of an understanding and enthusiastic partner to an artist.

In 2016, Frears exhibited 10 at Kestle Barton. This was a film that, by manipulating time, appeared to show a kind of everyday choreography of the people on the beach outside her studio window. Time unfolded and people pointed or fell together as if directed. With a feeling for Frears that human beings might be where it’s at, this new work, Ray and Susie, is a natural progression, with an intimate examination of a loving and creative partnership. The thoughts of Susie and of the filmmaker run through these short episodes allowing the films to be in conversation with one another and with the viewer.

Naomi Frears is based in the Porthmeor Studios in St Ives. Her practice includes work with film and video, as well as printmaking, painting, and collaborative curatorial projects. Recent shows and commissions include Somebody Loves Us All, Bold Tendencies, Peckham and Men Falling and In Other Words, Phoenix Gallery and RAMM Exeter. She will soon undertake a commission for Hospital Rooms at Bethlam Royal Hospital, London. Frears’ work appears regularly on the cover of the London Review of Books and her work is held in public and private collections including The Government Art Collection.

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Stills from 'Ray and Susie'

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