On the 7th of October 2016, the Greene Gallery held an opening exhibition for Frederick Bell’s series of artwork called “Looking at Looking”. Frederick Bell made his first appearance at St. John’s in 1998 with the exhibition of ‘Some Corner of a Foreign Field’. When asked what made him come back to St. Johns this year? He replied, “I am always interested in revisiting the same place. The work here is like on ongoing process, these works are remade. None of this is the same, yet it is the same it stays the same, none of it changes. Overall it is just interesting to come back to the school and expose art in this type of form towards the students of St. Johns.”
Frederick Bell’s work mainly concentrates on the idea of people looking at what people are looking at. His printed images and process of printed exhibition collages of people looking at pieces of art, related to war such as the Battlefield of Waterloo in this case, acts as a visual essay or a dialogue with the viewer. Frederick Bell said that “I was always questioning what I am doing here, what is the point of this when I was in art college and when you leave and you start showing work in galleries, I was always being self-conscious about me as an artist, I almost consider myself not an artist. I consider myself more as a viewer watching the work of art rather than being the artist of the artwork. Thinking about it, however, an artist would not be an artist if it does not have a viewer. A viewer brings a type of element into an artist’s piece of art. They are a participant in the whole piece.”
During the interview, Frederick Bell said that he wanted the audience to feel connected as if they were a part of the work. He hopes that the viewer could engage, look at the details because the details reveal what the whole image is. He captures and fits the process of the audience looking at looking into the work, making the audience then observe itself looking and eventually making the audience think about looking in a layer of a frame. The audience is intended to feel like they are part of a reflection in a way and also that they are a part of the whole image.
Finally, the last question that was asked toward Frederick Bell was an advice for IB art students who are striving to come out to the real world as artists. His replied with the advice; “I would say, don’t ever try to make finished pieces of work, you will arrive at finish pieces of work You don’t start thinking that you will make it and the one you make may not be the one you started or had intended to make. Just go with the flow.”
It was truly a great experience to have Frederick Bell’s taste and his idea of art portrayed in the Greene Gallery for all to appreciate. It was eye opening, heightening an awareness to observation in what is around us and how we appreciate it. Overall, Frederick Bell took all of us to a different level of looking through making us, the viewer feel connected and a part of the whole image.
By Madeline, Grade 10 student