Simon Patterson: High Noon

26.02.05 – 01.05.05

Simon Patterson is one of the most consistently inventive of the generation of London-based artists who came to international prominence in the 1990s. A complex manipulation of systems of classification, documentation, description and understanding, his work urges us to reconsider how and why we think we know what we know.

Central to this exhibition was the re-staging in the upper gallery of General Assembly, commissioned for Chisenhale in London in 1994 and unseen in Europe since that year. A pivotal work, General Assembly, with its subtle confusion of sport, politics, language and literary satire, offers an arena in which to consider Patterson’s primary concerns, played out in the wealth of visual material in the rest of the exhibition.

In the lower galleries, key existing works, The Great Bear, the artist’s well known re-working of the London underground map, and The Last Supper Arranged According to the Sweeper Formation (Jesus Christ in Goal), an early wall drawing that plays havoc with two hitherto sacrosanct articles of religious and sporting faith, framed major new projects. Time Piece is a film commissioned for this exhibition, in which Patterson edited new footage of old watches according to the timing of the climactic sequences of the classic Western High Noon. Ur combined the street plan of the Iraqi city of Ur with a wiring diagram, offering a new approach to ancient and contemporary civilisation.


In a spectacular and elegant sequence of timed explosions, Patterson detonated a series of coloured smoke grenades at strategic points on Calton Hill on Saturday 16 April. The public artwork, entitled Landskip, was staged near the National Monument – Scotland’s unfinished memorial to casualties in the Napoleonic Wars – and was documented by Patterson in a series of photographs. The event was a re-creation of Patterson’s public artwork, Landskip, 2000, which was staged in the grounds of Compton Verney House, Warwickshire, and inspired by its landscaped gardens historically used as a secret British Army location for smoke screen tests.

Patterson: ‘I wanted to create a daytime firework display in much the same way that artists were commissioned in the 17th and 18th centuries to design spectacles, including mock battles and fireworks displays, for their patrons’.

Exhibition organised with Ikon Gallery, Birmingham.

Exhibition supported by The Elephant Trust, The Foyle Foundation and Scottish Art Council Lottery Fund
Education supporters Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Scottish Arts Council Lottery Fund

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