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Jeanette Barnes at the Anise Gallery

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Flora Neville reviews Time and Tide, a new exhibition at the architectural art gallery in central London

Around the corner from the Design Museum and slightly off the tourist trail is the Anise Gallery, so called because it is one of a few buildings on this street in Shad Thames that until fairly recently was used as a spice factory. In 2012, gallery directors Jacquelyn Jubert and Joseph Robson moved in and, wanting to celebrate the building for its original purpose, they exposed the copper pipes, the brick work and the beams. The gallery specialises in architectural art, and is currently showing Jeanette Barnes’ charcoal sketches and monographs of London’s architecture in an exhibition called Time and Tide.

Frenetic development is the subject matter and Barnes captures the speed of the changing capital in her sketchy renditions. Cranes are the main element in most of her drawings; their mechanical arms flying around the paper with abandon. The capital’s most recognisable buildings, from the Shard to Foster & Partners’ Crossrail station at Canary Wharf are obscured by the scratchy representations of cranes. 

Sketching quickly on site with a 4B pencil, Barnes then translates her pencil marks on to another sheet of paper using charcoal. The effect is part record, part impressionistic, like an edited freeze frame of a time lapse. Some are wonderful. The sense of arrested development is palpable and the style is unique and interesting. Others, where the balance between control and anarchy is lost and the scribble takes over, are less successful.

Along with the pictures are boxes of rusty nails, some painted gold. These are the pickings from Barnes’ part time hobby – mud-larking, which involves dredging up items of potential worth or use in the river mud. There is a certain sobriety in these installation-like pieces, as they serve to remind us that the industry and development of our present will eventually be rusty nails sinking in the mud.  

Time and Tide runs until 5 December.

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