Photo of painting for Vanley Burke Exhibition

Council of Voices is presented by Pitt Studio and Division of Labour at University of Worcester’s Art House as huge transparencies and like the photographic process itself, offers both negative and positive.

The truth has long been documented, sometimes hidden, often conveniently dismissed, and at times lost behind a shameful history of nations.  

Photo of Arts House, Worcester
Arts House, Worcester

Vanley Burke, has an incredible ability to reveal these lost truths, through black and white film which can almost sap the era, the transience of fashion diminishes without its colour, revealing the graphic details of the people, places and events.  History is exposed through his humble photographic images, and then, as with Council of Voices, developed into archival narratives with collage and photomontage, introducing intense colour to accentuate the stories held within. 

This exhibition, for me, is the most moving of the Art House exhibitions so far, the subject, scale of the project, unique presentation are enhanced with the experience of inside/outside, which operates as you experience the installation reflecting different viewpoints.

Council of Voices in particular draws your eye; led by colour and abstract marks to the detailed photographs, the images speak to one another, separate yet connected, times and actions repeating like the colours and shapes that draw together the parts to a whole; which when viewed from different sides of glass reveal different angles of the same events.

Vanley Burke is a legend behind the lens, his images charting history and linking the untold undercurrents of decades. Capturing the moments of even the ordinary can become extraordinary with the passing of time and here, in film proves the craft has longevity well beyond the fashions of the moment. 

Burke charts history, opening essential conversations; and in Register of the Condemned, reveals the hand scribed names, those who carried the pain of injustice across continents, the image entitled Bearing Witness is of James Island, Gambia (Kunta Kinteh) a sea scene, scarred with crimes and the resilience of the best of human spirit.

Perhaps the greatest surprise is the viewing of the work from either side of the window, in daytime the work appears as a dark rich sepia with flashes of abstract colour and shadowy silhouettes of hands, faces, bodies between objects. Viewed from the inside with the light behind you see the collaged work in detailed clarity, faces, expressions, areas of paint and mark making which guide the eye between the events, stories that speak between the concealed voices.  

The exhibition runs until 30th July 2021.

Pitt Studios

The Exhibition is Hosted by the University of Worcester and curated by  Division of Labour Gallery and Pitt Studio. The Arthouse Castle Street Worcester There is an opportunity to join Vanley Burke and Nat Pitt of Pitt Studio’s for a street viewing of the exhibition on Saturday 17th July 11.00- 13.00, at Art House, Castle Street, Worcester.

Review by: Juliet Mootz

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