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Sculpture Alumnus Explores the Infinite at StudioRCA

The Aleph and Other Stories is a solo exhibition by Sculpture alumnus Jonny Williamson at StudioRCA, Nine Elms. This exhibition, which borrows its name from a short story by Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges, is the culmination of the inaugural, year-long David Troostwyk Studio Award at the Matt’s Gallery Martello Street Studio. 

Williamson was selected for the prize by director of Matt’s Gallery Robin Klassnik, artist Susan Hiller and RCA Head of Sculpture Jordan Baseman, for his 2014 degree show. Over the last year Williamson was provided with a free studio space at the Martello Street Studio, which was once home to Matt’s Gallery, and received mentoring from Robin Klassnik. 

Williamson’s exhibition explores multifaceted and overlapping themes, such as the infinite and the mystic sublime. Through the use of multiple slide projections, replicating yet never repeating computer-generated visuals, ethnographically based visuals and formal minimalist obelisks, the exhibition mimics and echoes moments of our layered lives.

The name of the exhibition is borrowed from the short story The Aleph, in which Borges images a fantastical point in space through which all other points in space can be viewed with total clarity. Like much of Borges fiction, the story explores the desire and struggle of the human mind to capture and comprehend the infinite.

Discussing the exhibition, RCA Senior Tutor, Kate Davis said: ‘Williamson’s work is complex and refers to the ancient and the modern through a perpetually layered combination of the digital and the analogue, as well as the fabricated and the found, making reference to the constant passage of information through various portals and screens.’

The exhibition is taking place at StudioRCA, a gallery and project space developed in partnership with the St James Group at the Riverlight residential development, designed by Richard Rogers. The space provides a platform for RCA students, recent alumni and invited artists to test ideas and engage with a public audience. The large windows provide a unique vitrine-like environment, where work is visible to passersby even when the space is not accessible. This creates an opportunity for artworks in process to be encountered and glimpses of exhibitions to infiltrate everyday life. 

In The Aleph and Other Stories, the layering of visual material and the converging streams of information are mirrored in this act of looking in at the exhibition through the gallery windows. The presentation of Williamson's work at StudioRCA feels appropriate, as this space also bridges the gap between studio and exhibition, offering a more fluid space in which to encounter artworks.

Ravi Govindia, leader of Wandsworth Council said: ‘Jonny Williamson’s exhibition at StudioRCA is hugely exciting, just the sort of thing we want here in Nine Elms. Wandsworth has a long established relationship with the Royal College of Art, which has been based in Battersea for many years. StudioRCA opened just last year, and I’m delighted Matt’s Gallery will be joining the RCA in playing an increasingly significant role, bringing to life our cultural aspiration for the area.’

The David Troostwyk Studio Award was supported by the David Troostwyk trust. Troostwyk attended the RCA from 1953–6 and was the first artist to be shown by Robin Klassnik in his studio space in 1979. Matt’s Gallery was founded as an artist-led, experimental platform and continues to explore the idea of the exhibition as a discursive space. This award demonstrates a commitment to supporting artists, and Williamson’s exhibition at StudioRCA continues Matt’s Gallery's legacy of providing artists with the best circumstances in which to show their work. 

The Aleph and Other Stories is open to the public: 28 & 29 November and 5 & 6,12 & 13 December, 2–4pm

StudioRCA, 1 Riverlight Quay, Nine Elms Lane, London SW8 5AU