Wednesday 12th October - Sunday 13th November 2022
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Wednesday 12th October – Saturday 12th November 2022

FOLD is pleased to present With Ash, And Stumble (Stumble), a two-person show by Hilda Kortei and Kes Richardson.


Hilda Kortei: What is stumble? Do you mean to stumble across something?

Kes Richardson: I was thinking of a word that describes a comedic/tragic movement, a physical failing or something slapstick. I like the sound of stumble and I like the repetition. I like the idea of recreating an involuntary movement, on a loop. The fakery of an actor yawning or sneezing – performed artifice. My paintings are made in that way: they are planned, but the initial drawings and the final applications of paint are performances of sorts. The former an improvisation, the latter well-rehearsed mimicry.

How about ash? A Guston cigarette? Donny’s remains in ‘The Big Lebowski’? Charcoal? Pigment?

HK: I’m not sure why my immediate thought was to stumble across something. I was probably thinking about my own process of stumbling across old works, forgotten mediums, fragments of failed and torn paintings. I kind of thrive working in the chaos of it all and stumbling across surprises. Actually, this is making me think about my scissors. They’ve been missing for a while; I know they’re in the studio somewhere. I can usually remember where I leave my tools, even when they hide under piles of fabric and scraps of paper.

‘Ash’ can’t be separated from ‘With’ in this instance. I’m interested in ash as residue or memory. A flake of ash is so fragile, it can crumble into nothing in our palms or be caught in a breeze and swept into a life elsewhere. Ash is intrinsically linked to the object which is burning. It’s the same matter in a different form and it’s in that form which the object lives on. In a way, I’m seeing ash as an embodiment of faith, one that makes us consider what it means to survive, endure, and transform. So, to be with ash is to be with…

KR: Potential?

HK: Perhaps.

KR: I see ash as an embodiment of time or cycles of time. For me, that links to the stumbling over old works. I always work from drawings and more recently these little ‘palettes’ that get made when I’m mixing paint to color-match the drawings to the paintings. I make drawings in batches, fast, de-focussed, without really looking up. I rarely use them straight away because I know they need time to settle, to be relevant. And so finding them weeks, months, years later gives a sense of removal for me. Like someone else made them. They’re me, but not me. The guy’s wife in Solaris. Ready-mades. But also that they had a life and they’re a record of that moment but when they’re employed again into a new work they’re reanimated, cloned. In this show, the cloning of forms is more explicit. The same handful of motifs reused across all the works.

HK: So, in a way when the drawings are made, they’re kind of ahead of us? We’re not yet ready to hear them, understand what they’re trying to say? There has to be an element of trust there then when making, right? Trusting that things will make sense when they do or things will come together when they’re ready – this happens a lot for me in the studio. I accept making is bigger than me and what I can make sense of, so I don’t intellectualise, I let feeling play with thought. My practice is led by ‘what if?’ and pushed with mischief. I like tapping into the child in me, whatever that means, I like seeing what I can get away with.

KR: Yeah, I like that skewed time idea. Who are we putting trust in then? Hilma Af Klint’s spirits, Picasso’s Duende, or just another ‘us’ on autopilot?  Don’t think, just get on with it. Bosh them out, muscle memory, hope for the best then let the dust settle and see where we’re at. Getting away with it certainly resonates. For you is it something to do with how little you interfere with the objects/materials you use?

HK: Yeah, how much I manipulate the objects/material is definitely part of it. I like to let them speak for themselves, but it’s also about the symbols I use, colour, form, application, staging, assemblage, etc. If it’s assemblage, I often have something in mind I want to explore when I start – whether working on a piece of wood, a sheet of fabric, or whatever, even though I work intuitively. I’m quite impatient and easily distracted so these explorations bend and reshape as I listen and respond, sometimes resting for long periods of time between movement or when waiting for company. Or they’re abandoned when I’m resistant to the direction they’re heading, but I trust that they’ll find their way back to the foreground. And they always do, eventually joining other fragments to form one body or an event. They’re not complete without each other.

KR: You talk as if the objects themselves are animate. Perhaps colluding with each other when your back is turned, or the studio lights turned off. Bagpuss and the gang. Nauman’s night studio guests. ‘We will fix it.’ Maybe they hid your scissors.