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In Contiguity
Ocean Baulcombe-Toppin, Jermaine Francis, Juliette Lena Hager, Pía Ortuño & Jake Walker

In Contiguity brings together works by five London-based artists whose varied practices converge on notions of motion, contact, tension and sound. Across video, sculpture, painting, installation and photography, Baulcombe-Toppin, Francis, Lena Hager, Ortuño and Walker each attune their works to the contradistinctions of this subject, together forming a choreography that speaks to the ways in which our bodies traverse in time, touching, parting and passing one another.

Baulcombe-Toppin predominantly employs found objects to construct a contemporary philosophy through her spirituality, British-Bajan heritage, and rituals for collective healing. She draws on tropes of domesticity – such as crystal glasses, dark wood furniture and photographs shot on 35 mm – to evoke a sentiment of intimacy in her ceremonial assemblages. Taken out of their usual order, preserved, reconstituted, and often anointed with charged water, these items enact a mysticism that ruminates on moments of togetherness shared between generations, family and friends – from the UK to the Caribbean.


Suspended from the ceiling of the gallery hangs a horizontal bar of adjoined cut-glass mugs,  most commonly drawn from the cupboard during celebrations and get-togethers where punch or tea is served. They become vestibules connecting bodies in the ritual of celebration and social interaction, their transparent materiality further offering a portal-like liquidity, conjuring the magic of incantation and communion. The composition is reminiscent of a makeshift swing, connecting us to notions of nostalgia, play, solace and hope; two Caribbean-sun-charged, clear-quartz crystals are concealed within the structure, placed there to enact balance, protection, and energy regulation.

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Francis’s photographic and film works similarly deploy visuals associated with the everyday, most often blending archival materials that explore the issues arising from interactions between bodies in shared space.


Lost In Music: A Post Industrial Dreamscape (2021-present), an edited version of an ever-evolving video piece that explores race and politics in a dancefloor context, overlays a photographic flag of a stilled image from within it. Placed up high, broadcast out into the gallery space, and visible through the window, it alludes to the collapse of public and private space in late capitalism. The work itself, like its display, is purposefully collaged in a cacophonic style that mimics the wasteland of information we’re often presented with; fast streams of internet visuals that we can’t fully grasp. It explores, through aesthetics, notions of hyper-productivity, dance music, Post-Industrial England, race and its intersections with class.

In November 2023, Lena Hager presented an installation in the gallery space titled Triptych (notations), consisting of three green-felted game boards arranged diagonally across the floor. Each held within it a specific compositional stage, set using objects symbolic of individual histories, exemplified by their marks, wear and materiality, the paths between them redrawn as in a dance. They performed as warped theatres, encapsulating both the complexity and rigidity of social rituals and behaviours.


The artist, whose sculptural practice explores structures and social rituals that negotiate and frame individual and collective experience, has once again returned to the floor of the gallery, adding lines and guides as a way to initiate an arrhythmia in this otherwise predictably-navigable cube. The installed intervention and accompanying text consider movement in the context of play or work and the spatiality and gestures that link back to those notions. Three types of markings have been considered within this: playgrounds, building sites/industrial locations and gymnasiums; all vocabularies with different signages holding distinct purpose and meaning. Floor markings for kids, for example, intend an educational exploration of balance and spatiality in a visually stimulating and playful way, while industrial and sports-related markings imply rules, security and calculated motions. The comparisons between these signs allow Lena Hager to consider the varied semiotics of meaning within architectural space, and how she can manipulate and guide the audience within the gallery.

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Ortuño’s surfaces, formed from raw pigment, oil paint, marble dust and nails on thick wooden blocks, are both painting and sculpture. Deploying a chisel, a tool she learned while training in a marble quarry in Carrara, she chips into these built forms, examining the relationship between industrial materials and decomposing metals with natural pigments, traditional mark-making and ritualistic gestures. Her practice reflects often on her Costa Rican heritage, from pre-Columbian spiritual rituals to post-colonial religious iconography, as well as the vibrant immersion of these natural landscapes and customs. Introducing light and shadow into these works through the techniques employed, Ortuño draws on multiple languages simultaneously: spirituality and worship, the divine within the collapsed, and nature and transformation. The artist often reflects on the dynamited passageways and scarred rock faces that she saw in the deep quarries of Carrara. She describes the void left behind as “time stolen from the earth”. These works, constructed from wooden blocks, reference the laborious process of mining, hewing, and shipping marble. The blocks migrate between paintings as Ortuño works on them, allowing one painting to finish another in an endless loop of possible arrangements, broken down and reborn.


The painting exhibited in the gallery can both lie flat and sit on a bend; though here it does the latter. It operates as a hinge, an interjecting form that breaks from tradition. The work continues her exploration into the compartmentalisation of her paintings, bricks that can be reworked into new lines of enquiry and patterns that meditate on art as object, as well as the transformative potential of different proximities and spatial interjections.

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Jake Walker’s practice is informed by an interest in mark-making and choreography, stemming from his early training at the Royal Ballet School and ongoing interest in the construction of sound and movement. Across his oil on canvas works, he intuitively builds up vivid, saturated colourways that he sometimes works to ‘clang,’ a term used to describe when multiple pieces of music in a DJ set are mixed together out of sync or out of key, working energetically across the surface in layered sessions. The works are abstract, but speak to a visualisation of the multisensory experience of spaces in which the body encounters a built rhythm: a soundscape. The relationship between the artist’s own body, as it moves in relation to the canvas, is the central tool for the formation of this recording. This can be Walker’s whole body moving both expansively across the canvas, or in smaller, controlled, repetitive motions. This becomes a feedback loop, as he then reflects on the emergent forms in the canvas, and responds to them: How could that mark direct a body part moving through a space? Or a number of bodies. What texture does that sound have?


Entry version 4, presented in the exhibition, is part of an ongoing series of Versions (2023-present), paintings linked by their specific compositional division. The central horizontal section of the painting is tonally lighter, implying a disjunction between this and the two larger, more abundant planes of paint it separates. It is the middle point. This severance operates as a transitional space, between shifts in a score, the opening of an eye that has been dreaming and an entrypoint into a different environment.

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