Local artist David Lemm’s first solo exhibition Debris and Phenomena is an understated collection of mysterious prints exploring systems of order and organisation. Produced as a result of research undertaken during a residency on the Isle of Eigg, the forty screen prints speak of issues of space and memory. Each print involves graphic, abstract shapes often overlaid on mapping materials and charts. They seem reminiscent of a geography lesson and at times childhood dot-to-dots; they seem to hold information ready to be deduced if only one could join the points together. In the comment book one visitor had praised their “restrained mystery”, which is exactly what makes the collection so engaging.
Lemm’s use of found sea charts, long out of use, imbues the work with a sense of memory. They show signs of their age and use: this fragility adds so much more depth to the otherwise cold, clinical printed shapes. The artist has responded to the data held on these papers sensitively enough for the graphics to never be out of place. A minority (unfortunately) of the screen prints involve collage, adding a physicality that might suggest the reality of the landscapes and seascapes depicted in parts of his maps. In one or two they almost depict a pile of pebbles he might have found on a beach on his isolated island. There is more beauty in these organic shapes.
The collection is presented simply and in a quiet space, suitable for such noiseless art. On first sight of a single print, one may not consider it to be at all moving or thought-provoking. So too, the lack of variety might discredit the artist. However, when seen as a whole collection, the art evokes a pleasing calmness and intrigue. The contrasts of found material and graphic constructions, of simplicity of matter and complexity of shape, instils a searching interest in every viewer.