Alyn Griffiths


September 9, 2021

A collection of new work by Glasgow-based artist Bronwen Sleigh will be presented at Custom Lane for the first time in an exhibition titled Form Follows.

The exhibition comprises a series of drawings, etchings and sculptures based on Bronwen’s travels to Kampala, Uganda, in 2015. The multimedia works offer an insight into Bronwen’s creative practice, in which she uses drawing, etching and sculpture to create abstract interpretations of architectural forms and places that are unfamiliar to her.

Bronwen was initially approached in 2019 by the Talks at the Lane team about presenting her work as part of Custom Lane and Groves Raines Architecture Studios’ series of lectures and conversations around the themes of design and making. Unfortunately, the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic meant that the talk and accompanying exhibition were postponed. The talk will now take place on Thursday 9 September ahead of the exhibition’s opening the following day.

Kyagwe Road Series - Hand Coloured Etching 34cm x34cm
Bronwen Sleigh

bronwen sleigh artist edinburgh printmaking sculpture custom lane talks at the lane form follows exhibition architecture urban spaces etching

Kyagwe Road Series - Hand Coloured Etching 34cm x34cm
Bronwen Sleigh

As with most of Bronwen’s work, the pieces included in Form Follows are based on her personal experiences of a particular place. In this case, the entire series is informed by a concrete business centre she discovered during her visit to the Ugandan capital. Bronwen is particularly interested in how cities are created and how our lived experiences relate to the vision of the original architects. Her artworks therefore evoke the ways that cities evolve over time, shifting from a singular idea to a heterogenous blend of shapes, colours and materials.

Architects design our world and my work is a response to experiencing that world, whether it’s good or bad or neither. I use drawings and other processes to respond to the work of architects and the way that different ideas and moments in history combine to form the urban environments we often take for granted.

Using an iterative process that begins with photographs and drawings made on her travels, Bronwen creates artworks that gradually become further removed from the original image. Each work informs the next, and the interplay between two and three dimensional techniques causes the outcomes to become increasingly abstracted while retaining a link to the initial starting point. This show’s focus on a single building foregrounds the processes through which the works evolve.

Kyagwe Road Series - Hand Coloured Etchings 34cm x34cm
Bronwen Sleigh

“In a normal show I would have lots of different drawings or plates from different parts of a city but here I’ve stuck with one form from one building and allowed the processes to keep repeating and re-examining that form,” she points out. “The show will feature a couple of prints that have a vague resemblance to the original structure and the rest of the work is evolved from that. None of the work in the show could exist without the rest so in a way it’s all one piece of work.”

The Form Follows exhibition features a set of colourful etchings, a series of framed prints, several drawings on graph paper and two groups of sculptures. The two-dimensional works feature Bronwen’s signature use of fine, parallel lines arranged to create a sense of three-dimensional volume and perspective. Sculptural pieces made from welded-steel rods and coloured thread translate these shapes into three dimensional objects with an inherent dynamism and illusory quality.

Kyagwe Road Study V
Bronwen Sleigh

Kyagwe Road Study V1
Bronwen Sleigh

According to Bronwen, the prolonged build up to the exhibition has allowed her to reevaluate this collection of work and refine some of the pieces that will be shown. The theme of the talk has also evolved from describing her practice in general to focusing on the pieces that will be exhibited. The show could also prove a natural end point to her exploration of Kampala’s architecture, six years after she visited the city. “For me a show like this is always a good bit of punctuation in my practice,” Bronwen adds. “I think I would have stopped working on the Kampala series already if it hadn’t been for lockdown but I also feel like I could make more work for it. I find the forms and the strangeness of the architecture so interesting that I just want to keep drawing from it.”

Talk | 9th September
Preview | Friday 10th September
Exhibition | Saturday 11th September – Tuesday 5th October