We human beings find it hard to leave surfaces alone. Over the centuries, we have painted, stitched, incised, etched, built, shaved and carved marks onto every kind of surface: our bodies, our textiles and building materials, the objects we manufacture, the earth itself, and our own skin. What is this mark-making urge? Is it terrotorial or a sign of ownership? A way of proving that we exist? A kind of protest? Or a compulsion, something that we, with our tool-holding hands, simply can't help doing? But marks can also be accidental or incidental, a by-product of another activity - a skid mark on a road, a graze on a knee, a blood stain, or an ink blot - without significance unless someone contructs or deduces a meaning.
On the Surface at The Parlour in London in December 2008 and Surface! at the Oxfordshire Museum, Woodstock in April 2009 formed a two-part exploration of the covering, uncovering and discovering of marks on surfaces. The two exhibitions showed different work by the participating artists.
The artists were Jacqueline Ashmore, Tânia Bandeira Duarte, Alex Dewart, Alan Franklin, Frances Anne Greenough, Estelle Holland, Patrick Jeffs, Philip Lee, Lis Mann, Cally Trench, and Imogen Welch. The exhibitions were curated by Cally Trench.