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Exeter Phoenix presents
Rachel Busby & David Webb


Fri 18 Jul 2014 - Sat 30 Aug 2014
18 July – 30 Aug 2014 (Preview: Thu 17 July, 6 – 8pm)


Exeter Phoenix is pleased to present an exhibition of recent paintings by Rachel Busby and David Webb, who each make work grounded in memory, nostalgia and a sense of place; each in their own way, appearing to weave a tentative path that fluctuates between representation and abstraction.

Both artists draw references from rich personal histories and the powerful agency of particular objects, locations and narratives. Rather than coalesce into tangible landscapes, interiors or still life imagery however, these allusions are fragmented, mapped out and reworked to capture an essence within their subject’s origin - as opposed a direct representation in paint. Alternative vocabularies are built through recurrent motifs, compositional structures and a layering of gesture, form, colour and surface.



Rachel Busby’s paintings are rooted in her return, from living and working in large cities, to her childhood home on the west coast of Wales. She revisits objects, stories and places from her own past, and from the ancient landscape that surrounds her once again – fleeting memories and imaginary histories.

Often employing a muted pallet of greys, lifted by glimpses of colour and layers of contrasting brushwork that break down the picture plane, gestural brushwork and compositional devices become proxies for objects, figures and emotions. A sense of slippage occurs between familiarity and alienation; intimate interiority and the ever-present shadow of the unforgiving weather and the beautiful, wild landscape. Titles such as Silver Wheels Peered in to Next Door’s Tent (2013), House Built Over a Viking Boat (2014) and Sunday Afternoon, Anna described the film ‘Carrie’ in such detail, I never had to watch it - we were learning to roller skate at the time (2014), give some insight into the rich sense of narrative that lies at the heart of her paintings.


Born and raised in Exeter, David Webb now lives and works in London and looks to a personal history of foreign travel and past family migration as a source for his work. Elements, such as the geometric patch of sky glimpsed between tall buildings, the curve of an elegant armchair in an antique family photograph or the indistinct memory of a childhood toy elephant, are distilled into repeated motifs through a process of sorting, erasing, reimagining and paring back. Flooded by layered, luminous colours, areas of sharp geometric line are carefully balanced with fluid, saturated surfaces and textured paint.

His titles (often reiterated in on-going series), such as Parcheesi; Star; or Tourist Smoking Room, may offer a suggestive glimpse or clue to their origin but, rather than linger on his literal narrative or representational source, Webb aims to capture some sense of the sentiment at its heart, to reveal something implicit that will resonate with the viewer.

An essay to accompany the exhibition, which is available from the gallery, has been commissioned from Bristol based art writer Lizzie Lloyd

Rachel Busby and David Webb: On Form:
On Form 

More information on Lizzie Lloyd -


Exeter Phoenix
Bradninch Place
Gandy Street



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