Nancy Milner, Gill Ord and Emily Speed in ‘Dark Geometries’

We are always happy to hear news from our alumni, but we were especially excited recently to hear from three of our Fine Arts alumni who got in touch to let us know about an upcoming show they were collaborating on.

Nancy Milner (Abbey Scholar in Painting 2014-15), Gill Ord (Abbey Fellow in Painting 2014-15) and Emily Speed (Derek Hill Foundation Scholar 2014-15) met at the BSR at the start of their residencies in 2014.

Here, Emily explains how the idea for Dark Geometries – an exhibition with Seth Ayyaz which runs until 27 November at Coleman Projects – came to fruition.

‘We knew quite soon after we had all left Rome that we wanted to work together again and I think that’s testament to the impact that the residencies at the BSR have on the artists who stay there. We’re all still working through the experiences and research that we gathered during our residences and the time at the BSR will most likely continue to inform our practices for many years to come.


Installation time at Coleman Projects


The exhibition started with a lot of conversations, so not dissimilar to popping in and out of each other’s studios at the BSR, meeting in the kitchen while making coffee or discussions over dinner. Using the space at Coleman Projects as a starting point, we tried to explore connections between our different practices and a shared interest in architectural forms and the reverberative play of sound and colour.


Seth Ayyaz ‘adding another layer of depth to the investigations’ with his sound pieces.

Seth Ayyaz was invited to join us, his sound pieces adding another layer of depth to the investigations. During the opening event, his sound performance created a really intense experience in collaboration with a film by Gill Ord and it was great to see the work layered in that way. Each work in the exhibition can be considered as a node within an underlying matrix of potential relations and hopefully relationships between the pieces become apparent when going through the space.


Rubbed smooth, Emily Speed (2016)

The front gallery space hosts new paintings by Gill and Nancy, as well as a sculptural work by Ayyaz. In Rome, Gill made paintings in a variety of ancient, underground spaces, and often with little light. Nancy is interested in the occurrence of intense moments of light glimpsed briefly, like the experience of emerging from a dark church into the glaring, midday sun. The shift that occurs from light to dark while travelling through the spaces at Coleman, from the bright gallery through to the large, dimly lit shed, draws attention to these qualities. In my own work, I am considering the relationship between architecture and the body. Rubbed smooth, a work containing repeated imagery at the rear of the gallery, takes the idea of the city as palimpsest, where buildings rather than words are erased, rebuilt and replace, and where inhabitants leave visible traces of their presence. This exhibition feels very much like another discussion or working out of ideas and hopefully future collaborative ventures will follow.’

Emily Speed (Derek Hill Foundation Scholar 2014-15)


Emily, Nancy and Gill take some time out during installation.

Photos courtesy of Andy Cohen.