Eric Snell : ‘Under Surveillance’

As part of a new initiative ‘Is the paint still wet?’ the Guernsey Museum has commissioned the artist and Commissioner of Public Art for the Guernsey Arts Commission, Eric Snell, to create a new site-specific art work for their newly renovated Rona Cole Gallery.

Eric Snell over the years has exhibited in many museums and art galleries around the world and has work in many both public and private collections but what is so special about this particular project, is that this new permanent installation. makes reference to both global as well as local issues.

Set high up in the gallery roof space of the Rona Cole Gallery, Snell explores the use of closed-circuit television (CCTV) as an artistic medium. The cameras and screens co-exist in the same space making the gallery visitor both the observer as well as the observed. 

Snell is obviously make reference to the increasing paranoia and use of surveillance cameras post 9/11 but at the same time is making reference, on a more personal note, he is also talking about his own childhood growing up in Guernsey in the 50s and 60s when everybody knew what everyone else was doing – when even without today’s technology, the island was ‘under surveillance’.

Snell has not only worked with and considered the interior architecture of the space but also uses the visual language to reinforce that word ‘under’.  The horizontal screens create a blanket like effect – digital dark clouds hovering over our heads.

Moving away from the specific references to surveillance, Snell also alludes to past genres and traditions in art history.  There are links with illusionistic ceiling painting; di sotto in sù or (sotto in su) which in Italian means “seen from below” or “from below, upwards”.

The images we see of ourselves are often cut off at odd angles, not dissimilar to the methods used by a number of Impressionist painters, particularly that of Degas. These images are further fragmented not unlike Cubist work which explored the visual possibilities of viewing objects from different angles.

The grainy black-and-white images, combined with the slightly unnerving figures looming above us contain elements seen in early cinematography and the work of the masters of cellulose suspense such as Hitchcock.

There are many connections to be made – but come and see the work for yourself.  Under Surveillance is opened to the public as from Friday 5 October in the Rona Cole Gallery, Guernsey Museum Candie Gardens.

There will also be an accompanying free lecture, where the new installation will be discussed by the artist. Book in advance as seats are limited!

Thursday 11 October, 7.00pm
Free admission
Frossard Lecture Theatre, Guernsey Museum & Art Gallery, Candie Gardens, St Peter Port, Guernsey, GY1 1UG

Telephone 01481 726518 to book your seats.

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