Exhibition launch: Saturday 23 May, 6-8pm

Join us for the launch of our next exhibition The Fifth Artist, featuring new work by Olivier Castel, Jesse Darling, Crabtree & Evans and Alice Theobald who were in-residence together at Wysing in the autumn of 2014, working within the theme of The Future. The exhibition continues until 5 July.

The Fifth Artist

In Jacques Derrida’s Specters of Marx: The State of the Debt, the Work of Mourning & the New International (1993), the word hauntology first appeared. The title of the book references Marx and Friedrich Engels' statement at the beginning of The Communist Manifesto that a "specter (is) haunting Europe.” Specters of Marx is a damning criticism of the liberal left’s failure to generate the conditions for an equitable and fair society; and so the specter of ideology continues to haunt, whilst the economic and social conditions of many continue to worsen.

A set of artists’ residencies that were themed The Future, could not fail to be haunted by the current state of world politics. Although not directly addressed by the artists, an unidentified presence lurked at the edges of this tightly knit group; strangers until situated together in rural Cambridgeshire for six weeks. Let’s call this presence The Fifth Artist.

Throughout their period in-residence the artists lived together in Wysing’s farmhouse during the dark months and shortened days of November and December 2014. During this intense period, away from the city and its routine of toil and commerce, they worked independently in studios, coming together for evening meals and occasional trips out. 

A ghost story, recounted early in their residency, created a part-believed, part-ridiculed ripple throughout conversations, continuing even into post-residency as the story’s mythology continued to evolve.

The slippage between fiction and reality becomes intensified during times like this; an unusual situation to be located within, sharing a home and thoughts with a group strangers brought together by a person, or persons, also unknown to them. This heightened intensity became part of the residency day-to-day; moving across the unlit site, in and out of artificial light and intense darkness, from studio to house, occasional visits to the city and back again. Perhaps it is unsurprising that the phantom of The Fifth Artist emerged as a symbol of an unknown presence, and also perhaps a liminal space; a threshold.

Since the residencies the artists have been developing some of the ideas that started to emerge during their time at Wysing into new works; Alice Theobald’s videos that play with multiple narrative positions and reference points, Crabtree and Evan’s wearable objects and sculptures, Jesse Darling’s re-interpretation of ritual and a new kind of primitivism, and Olivier Castel, who gave the spectral Fifth Artist its name, and whose work will shed light into the gallery space giving substance to a second exhibition of shadows.


The Fifth Artist is the title of this exhibition but the act of naming, giving it material form, also makes it a contributor to the exhibition. The Fifth Artist is the unknown and the unknowable, the shadows without, the oppressiveness of an uncertain future and also perhaps an enquiry into the condition of being human.

With support from Arts Council England and Henry Moore Foundation.