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Guy Sherwin: Movements in Light

The British film artist discusses his latest exhibition where he mixes new and revisited pieces from his vast body of work

Guy Sherwin studied painting at Chelsea School of Art in the 1960s, and subsequently moved into film art. He taught printing and processing at the London Film-Makers Co-op (now Lux) in the 1970s. Sherwin has a vast body of work, including the seminal Man With Mirror, in which he interacts with a younger image of himself, manipulating light and temporality using a handheld mirror and a Super 8 projector.

His exhibition Movements in Light features a full programme of new and revisited works, including 'Tree Reflection #2', which uses mechanically interlocked projectors and a single loop of film to produce two upside-down reflected images, Staircase, an entirely new work filmed at Siobhan Davies Studios, and Sound Cuts – the basis of which is the concept of ‘optical sound’ - the soundtrack produced from changes in light patterns at the edge of a film strip.

Dazed Digital: How did you transition from painting into film?
Guy Sherwin
: I started going to experimental film screenings at the NFT - that’s how my interest began really. My work in film followed on from my painting – the focus was still on the materials used and the production process. At the time some held the view that film could not be considered fine art. They had their reasons – for example, the idea that film makes use of time and cannot therefore be viewed as an object. Nowadays film art has achieved a kind of object-like status with the increase in video installations in galleries and so on. But back when I was at art school things were different. I suppose what I really wanted to do in the sixties was be as radical as possible!

DD: How did you meet your partner and sometime collaborator Lynn Woo?
Guy SherwinWe were actually introduced to each other by Mark Webber from Pulp under Waterloo Bridge after a London Film Festival screening in 2003! It’s a little-known fact but Mark is a great authority on avant-garde film.

DD: How have you found working in the Siobhan Davies space?
Guy Sherwin: The studio is a fantastic space to work in - it’s an amazing building, in terms of both architecture and light. I was actually talking to the architect Sarah Wrigglesworth yesterday about the main studio – it has a roof like a loaf of bread that has been stuck in a tin and risen! Working in a dance studio is interesting as I feel that my work has some choreographic elements – although that is another idea that has been somewhat looked down on in the art world!

DD: Are there any emerging artists whose work you admire?
Guy Sherwin: I like Emma Hart’s work – I’m looking forward to seeing her exhibition at Matt’s Gallery. I also found Katie Paterson’s Earth–Moon–Earth extremely interesting! Generally, in both my own work and other peoples’, I prefer perceptual things, where the focus is on the process of looking at and engaging with a piece. I’m not too concerned with representation and trying to read too much into art.

Guy Sherwin’s Movements In Light (curated by Charles Danby) runs until 25th November, with a special evening of live performances (including ‘Man With Mirror’ and ‘Sound Cuts’) and a panel discussion on Friday 7th October. www.siobhandavies.com/studios/index.html