Selective Affinities


Selective Affinities


Gemma Appleton/Hannah Browne/Anne-Marie Creamer/Stuart Croft/
Jan Mladovsky/Michael Ridge/Freya Smith/Holly Sutton/Mathew Noel-Tod/
Mark Aerial Waller/Liz Wright/Natalie Zervou







The title of the exhibition is paraphrasing Goethe's novel Elective Affinities and in the context of the novel, the well-established chemical term “elective affinities” - relating to the mysterious behaviour of chemical elements - is extended to cover human relationships, both personal and political. Like alkalis and acids, the words and images of Goethe’s characters - even if diametrically opposed - have a curious affinity for one another.

Goethe was an artist as well as scientist and believed that both art and science search for the same truth. He states that art “rests upon the deepest foundations of knowledge, upon the being of things, insofar as we are permitted to know it in forms we can see and grasp”, that knowledge based on experience of nature is merely an ideal and that it reveals itself in the work of art, when it becomes perceptible reality. “Artists must confront the naked truths that are not very comforting…Art is long, life short, judgment difficult and opportunity transient”.

Contemporary communications seem to demand new forms of expression reflecting the channelling of images, words and sounds into a stream of information. The exhibition ‘Selective Affinities’ explores how the participating artists’ work - using images, sounds and words - represents reality and whether the various strategies employed enjoy a harmonious kinship, engage in skirmishes, or seek to destroy one another. The history of iconoclasm and its periodic ebb and flow tells us about the ideological stakes of the debate.

The established artists in the exhibition live and practice outside the region, but began to interact professionally through their teaching involvement with the New Media pathway at Norwich School of Art & Design. Pursuing the collective ethos of those staff associated with the Norwich course, they now want to contribute this project to the wider context of the city, by inviting the students to exhibit alongside the tutors on the common - external to the art school - ground of the OUTPOST gallery. ‘Selective Affinities’ thus provides a platform to explore new pedagogic models. “As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live…then… whatever you can do, you can begin – boldness has genius, power and magic in it” Goethe.

Art schools have traditionally been regarded as part of the art-world, at least by the art-world itself. This is where new generations of artists come from. However, as publicly funded and regulated institutions, they may be primarily expected to fulfil educational roles and to be integrated within the academic establishment. By exhibiting their work together at OUTPOST and by taking part in the debate, the artists and the students associated with New Media Fine Art at NSAD want to demonstrate not only the affinity of their creative practices, but also their affinity to the idea of art schools as part of the art-world, and the value of such a concept to the regional community.

Jan Mladovsky - Exhibition Curator
Katherine Mager - Assistant Curator

Tuesday 1st May, 
St. Simon & St. Jude church, 
3.30 – 5.30pm

Anne-Marie Creamer
Stuart Croft
Simon Granger 
Derek Mace 
Lynda Morris
Neil Powell
Michael Ridge 
Sue Tuckett
Natalie Zervou

Jan Mladovsky


Selective Affinities is a metaphor for the process of becoming an artist, a process central to the story of art and well known largely through the biographies of famous artists. Its social dynamic however is intertwined with the history of the institution of the Art Academy and the theory of Art Education.

The proposition for the debate accompanying the exhibition is to examine the current relationship between the Art School institution, the personal journey of becoming an artist and its relevance vis-à-vis the contemporary art world. The discussion will be informed by the personal contributions of the panel, representing the broad perspectives of the artist, the student, the curator and the art educationalist.