A private viewing 22nd Feb 2017
Split Curiosity Disorder: a fictitious affliction in which the subject cannot be restricted to work in one manner or style, instead choosing to change it frequently, depending on what is being drawn or a particular preoccupation. It can become so chronic that art directors become befuddled as they struggle to pigeon-hole the subject, and agents run away, sometimes screaming. It usually occurs due to the subject’s love of drawing in all its multifarious forms and a restless addiction to the exploration of new methods. Inevitably, the subject has to learn to live with an increasingly fragmented portfolio.
Toby Atkins is a lifetime sufferer of this ailment but, with great effort and determination, has managed to confine his style to just two favourites for this exhibition: natural history illustration and Japanese ukiyo-e prints. His latest series, Natural Curiosities, is the largest and most complex set of screenprints he has yet produced, inspired by nineteenth-century collectors’ cabinets of stag beetles and other mounted entomology. Combining detailed engraving-style illustrations of insects with the bold, graphic shapes of astronomical bodies, they attempt to link the massive and the minute.
Toby’s Sakura Beer posters were inspired by the Sapporo Beer Museum in Hokkaido, Northern Japan, and its beer posters for the Sapporo, Kirin and Asahi companies from the turn of the 20th Century. These are Toby’s take on those posters, combining the aesthetic of traditional old Japanese ukiyo-e (woodblock) prints - in this case, particularly the work of Hokusai and Utamaro - with a fresher colour palette and a contemporary kick.
Sadly, there is no known cure as yet for Fictitious Split Curiosity Disorder, though it is thought to be beneficial for the sufferer to have their work admired. Please be aware that the Curiosity condition is, however, highly contagious and can lead, on occasion, to the loss of feline life for some unknown reason…