13 November — 27 November 2011

Each work in the exhibition was developed by the artists  An Endless Supply, Ruth Beale, Karin Kihlberg & Reuben Henry and Emma Smith during their residencies within The Department of Overlooked Histories. The works encourage us to examine the way that information is presented and read, drawing out a wider concern of the Department around the way that history, and the information that forms it, is created, developed, preserved, presented and understood.

Click on the image to see installation shots of the exhibition.

The Department of Overlooked Histories

Ruth Beale’s pamphlets and screenprinted posters form part of a larger body of work, England's Pleasant Land: A Remake. The poster, inspired by early twentieth century pageant posters, represents a framework for the outcomes of Beale’s research project. It advertises a series of performances and projects in various forms which highlight issues/tensions relating to preservation and historic/natural authenticity within a contemporary idea of the countryside.

This project is a proposal for a re-imagining of the issues played out in a pageant play, England’s Pleasant Land, by EM Forster from 1939. Though both fun and knowing in its use of form, the Forster play perpetuated the problems with pageants by not challenging timeless notions of rurality and class hierarchies. The form of the pageant popular from 1900-1930s was that of an historical reenactment centred around a particularly linear, empirical telling of history.

Here Beale reinterprets what is fundamentally a polemic for preservation of the countryside into a series of ‘vignettes’ that question what a pageant might be or do now. She has taken an antiquated form, reinvented it and is using it to explore the very notions of historicisation and preservation that it represents.

Emma Smith’s performance of a new composition: Bourn Bounds Bob Major, in the tower at Bourn Church on Saturday 12 November at 7.30pm is accompanied by a presentation of the composition score and a set of handchimes that tonally match those found in the Bourn Church. The score presented here is the outcome of a body of research into the use of bell ringing as an ancient mode of communication. Smith has worked with bell ringers and mathematicians to construct a coded language based on the mapping of ringing methods.

Studying the geometric structures that are made possible through the mathematical sequences of ringing, Smith mapped the process named ‘Plain Bob’ as selected and regularly played by Bourn’s ringers, onto a map of the village. Through this layering process the main thoroughfares and boundaries determine the rows to be played. Converting this geographic map back into sound Smith has developed a composition that can take its player on a journey from the tower at Bourn Church down all the village roads to the extent of the parish boundary.

The wallpapered design stand presented by An Endless Supply houses a 100 page type specimen, designed and published by the duo as part of a body of research into the activities of the Curwen Press between 1911 and 1935. The specimen features Curwen Sans, originally drawn by Harold Curwen in 1911, and uncovered and redrawn by An Endless Supply 100 years later.

The font has been redrawn from original prints sourced from the Curwen Press Papers held at Cambridge University. The type specimen functions as a critical history of the typeface featuring new writing on the processes of revival and acting as a vehicle for considering the study of history in general. The screenprinted wallpaper that forms the dust jacket of, and backdrop to the specimen is a redrawn version of one of many wallpaper designs by the Curwen Press.

This work not only raises questions about the revival, reinterpretation and representation of overlooked design but actively enters into them by digitising and making available this typeface which although a forerunner to more avant guard typeface design has now slipped into obscurity. During their residency An Endless Supply installed a print studio at Wysing and offered their services as a design studio for the Department, resulting in the design and screen printing of Beale’s posters and the design of Smith’s score.


Karin Kihlberg & Reuben Henry’s new video, Analytical Chronology of Three Dimensions is a proposition for a visual grammar, colluding grammatical tenses of the English language with their possible realisations in physical space. The link between the construction of grammar and architecture is made explicit through the rhythmic correlation of the visual and audio.  Taking the way we position ourselves in time through language as a starting point the film presents the construction of four seemingly straightforward verbs: ’do’, ‘speak’, ‘see’ and ‘think’. The complicated way that we construct time, and the language that conveys its construction becomes apparent as the voiceover explores a range of possible conjugations of these four fundamental actions and their representation in a visual grammar.

By taking a single shot of a book and expanding it out into the space in which the film was shot and is now shown, and then into the exterior of this space, and finally its architectural plans Kihlberg and Henry open up not just the mechanisms of filming and screening but the way in which we engage with architecture and documents within time.