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David Ward - Critic's choice

Nothing escapes the keen eye of artist David Ward, writes Andrew Mead

The artist David Ward has taught at the Architectural Association, had a studio in the
Le Corbusier-designed Carpenter Centre while on residency at Harvard University, and made installations for such buildings as King’s College, Cambridge, and Sir John Soane’s Museum. Now he returns to Cambridge with a show of photographic works, drawings and a film at Kettle’s Yard. Pictured below are two pastel monochromes from a series called Landscape, Portrait, Light, which are hung in pairs on one wall of the gallery. But no single image can represent this exhibition because its contents are quite diverse.

Some themes emerge nonetheless. One is Ward’s willingness to set processes in motion in which the result isn’t predetermined, as in a beautiful group of Uncontrolled Images, where sheets of photographic paper and chemicals combine to produce sights you might see through the Hubble telescope – a glimpse of distant galaxies. There’s an interest too in fleeting and ephemeral effects, as in a film of the ever-mobile surface of the Orinoco River in South America, but Ward also has an eye for how things change much more gradually over time, seen in some studies of an Auguste Rodin sculpture, its bronze weathered by long exposure to the open air. In his essay ‘The Art of Fiction’ (1884), the novelist Henry James urged aspiring authors to be ‘one of the people on whom nothing is lost’. You sense that, in the visual realm, Ward is just such a person.

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