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8 June - 14 August 2015: Artist-in-Residence

Image: John Timberlake, Artist's Impression: Mangled Metal (2015) cardboard, glue and acrylic paint, 30 x 2.5 x 2.7 cm. Courtesy the artist.

Bow Arts and the Peltz Gallery at the School of Arts have joined forces to award the first Artist-in-Residence in the Peltz Gallery. The Residency, which we hope to expand in further years, connects artists with academics to create new work inspired by the interdisciplinary research produced within the School of the Arts. The aim of the Residency is to explore how artistic engagement with academic research might simultaneously develop reflective arts practices and advance academic thinking.

We are delighted to present Artist’s Impression: Mangled Metal, a collaboration between artist John Timberlake and Dr Gabriel Koureas, Senior Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Visual Culture, taking place between 8 June and 14 August 2015.

John Timberlake is working with Dr Gabriel Koureas exploring issues around the representation of the figure of the ‘terrorist’ in the context of Britain’s ‘small wars’ 1945 – present. Central to their collaboration are reflections on the use of mangled metal as exhibitionary strategy by museums of war in representations of ‘small wars’ and the War on Terror.  As Gabriel has previously written, the specimen of mangled metal, the fragment of wreckage, frequently becomes an exhibitionary trope, establishing the inhumanity of the insurgent in contrast to the artefacts such as tanks, artillery, rifles or aircraft that are often chosen to represent humane and heroic wars. The dialogue that takes place between the shining, smooth surfaces of the machinery of war and the rough surfaces of mangled metal is one between justifiable and unjustifiable war, good and evil, heroes and villains.

John Timberlake’s installation explores the transformation in the life of metal from material object (car, plane, building etc) to photographic index, to relic, to drawing, to paper object, and finally to installation. This is achieved through the transformation of the gallery space into a reliquary that reveals the re-worked fragments as objects of veneration. With the objects laid out on the floor, and tables, the installation echoes the forensic laying out and assembling of evidence whilst at the same time drawing on the act of painting in the context of staging, model making, sculpture and installation. The exhibition explores Walter Benjamin’s notion of art-object(s) as simultaneously fragments of culture and fragments of barbarism. Echoing the ostraka of Ancient Greece the installation will obviate the prioritisation of figure/ground relations and instead construct a field of unique but equal elements thus challenging established hierarchies of conflict and complicating such simplistic concepts as  ‘justifiable political act’ versus ‘the atrocity’.

John has also written a blog post giving his personal insight into the exhibition.

A Work in Progress

An exhibition of drawings and reference material was on view until Friday 26 June with the artist available to the public on 24 June, all day, and 25 June from 1.30pm. The final show will open at the Peltz Gallery, Birkbeck School of Arts from 4 July – 14 August 2015. Private View took place on 3 July from 6-8.30pm.


3 July 2015: Remembering Small Wars: roundtable with veterans, artists and curators. 43 Gordon Square, 3.30-5.30pm. Book for this free event on Eventbrite.

3 July 2015: Private View of the first Artist in Residence project in partnership with Bow Arts, 6-8.30pm.

7 July 2015: Commemorating 7/7: artists, architects and academics in conversation. Gordon Square Cinema, 6-8pm. Book for this free event on Eventbrite.

8 July 2015: Artist & Academic Residencies - a conversation between practitioners at Bow Arts. Nunnery Gallery, 181 Bow Road, London, E3 2SJ, 6-8pm. You are invited to join Elizabeth Murton in conversation with current recipients of the Birkbeck and Bow Arts residency award. This discussion will digest the recent and ongoing experiences of both the artist John Timberlake and the academic Dr Gabriel Koureas about their current collaborative exhibition at Peltz Gallery entitled Artist’s Impression: Mangled Metal. Book your place on Eventbrite.

Bow Arts is an arts education charity that provides affordable creative workspaces for over 400 emerging artists.­


Birkbeck, School of Arts
43 Gordon Square
London WC1H 0PD

Opening hours

Monday-Friday: 10am-8pm

Please note the gallery is now closed on Saturdays for the summer.

Saturday: 10am - 5pm (Term time unless otherwise stated)

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