CHRIS FREMANTLE

What Art/Reading?

Posted in CF Writing, Texts by chrisfremantle on July 31, 2009

Chris Biddlecombe’s book when visitors appear produced as part of his work with the Arthur Conan Doyle Richard Lancelyn Green Collection and the Aspex Gallery which resulted in the exhibition Between Worlds, 2009.

Biddlecombe explores his own interests through the cypher of Arthur Conan Doyle and the Richard Lancelyn Green Collection held by Portsmouth City Council.

Conan Doyle’s public persona as author of the Sherlock Holmes stories is entwined with his less well known involvement in Spiritualism.  Richard Lancelyn Green obsessively collected anything to do with Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes.  Biddlecombe has, in turn, obsessively explored this material during an off-site project co-ordinated by the Aspex Gallery.

The book is a juxtaposition of the moments when Holmes and Watson first meet their ‘clients,’ drawn from the stories; and a number of psychic research photographs found in the Richard Lancelyn Green collection.  Biddlecombe has made drawings of an almost anthropological or illustrative character from the photographs.  Each photograph appears to contain both people and spirits, not always human.  Interestingly Biddlecombe’s drawings apply the same mark making techniques to both subjects, and therefore emphasise an equality of reality.  The spirits are as real as the sitters.

As is highlighted in the text for the exhibition, trickery does not necessarily preclude truth.  Visitors may be the product of the imagination, but that makes them no less significant.

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