Nous Vous: The Watery Line

By September 19, 2014

Art & Photography. Leeds.

[Image: Nous Vous in progress. © The Tetley]


The Tetley
18th July – 31st August 2014

LOOK- a display of new drawings, collages, paintings prints and objects; ARRANGE- an improvised site-specific installation; SING- a collection of site-specific songs and field recordings; ASSEMBLE- conversations with local practitioners converted into a publication; FRAME- a changing display of items crafted during workshops; MAKE- a purpose-built workshop studio; REVEAL- a selection of works in progress from a two week residency at The Tetley; FORM- a range of ceramics exploring the interplay of functionality and flippancy within contemporary art; SHARE- a DIY image making workshop; WATCH- a video loop comprising sources of inspiration.

And so goes the latest offering from The Tetley, a playful and spirited exhibition/residency courtesy of London-based three-piece collective Nous Vous. Composed of Jay Cover, William Edmonds, and Nicolas Burrows, Nous Vous strive to create whimsical and intelligent context-driven projects encompassing illustration and graphic design commissions, exhibitions, curatorial work, publishing and teaching.

Unfortunately I am in the disadvantaged position of reviewing this work after the live workshops and events have finished, rather than what would have been a somewhat more insightful account of before, during and after. The (very) welcome warmth of the afternoon sun had practically purged all indoor areas of human activity- The Tetley being no exception- and it felt like I had the entire gallery to myself. The faint comfort of music and distant conversations of lunch-breakers drifting up from the downstairs bar penetrated the otherwise disquieting stillness of what I am used to experiencing as a hive of activity, (as it no doubt would have been during the closing workshops, the day before my visit).

But there is something most definitely present and alive in an aftermath. For through the aftermath, one contemplatively re-lives or re-imagines the preceding activity, tracing its movement through the signs left behind, in this case the objects produced. In many ways, the aftermath can be more active and engaging than the event itself- rather than activity for the sake of activity, the (visual) outcomes of such actions can promote a heightened awareness of the nature and intentional drive of the events themselves- what was it doing; why is it significant; what has it achieved; has it succeeded; essentially- what has it done and why was it worth doing so. It was pleasing to see that this was the case with The Watery Line, particularly poignant within the MAKE section of the show, offering the distinct feel of a classroom after hours- blinds half-closed, pin boards full of paper and busy (specifically designed) table-tops on which proudly sits the material created throughout the workshops.

The show nicely occupies and fills the awkward spaces of The Tetley, although arguably if the most interesting focus of The Watery Line is the residential programme of creating context-inspired works or an inclusive pseudo-pedagogic project of workshops and events, does it really require an exhibition at all? The work is no longer participatory or active, but formal and passive, scarcely interactive in which, needless to say, more commonplace institutional restrictions now replace creative autonomy- emphasised admittedly by the relentless silence of my visit. Is it over? Or has it entered a new phase? Make of it what you will.

Dan Newton


For details of The Tetley’s current exhibitions, projects and workshops, visit

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