Birds Digging1

to the birds / MAN DIGGING

Two dis­tinct exhi­bi­tions that, side-by-side, explore what it is to make paint­ings, and to make exhi­bi­tions, brought togeth­er by Dan Howard-Birt

15/07/23 – 03/09/23
Opening Times
Sunday, Closed
Mon–Sat, 10:00 – 17:30
In to the birds Dan Howard Birt has gathered small paintings – his own and artworks by other painters – to fill a series of holes, cut into the surfaces of his own paintings; and in MAN DIGGING he uses spade-work as a metaphor for thinking about the actions and processes that form the rhythms of other painters’ studio work.

to the birds

Recent paintings by Dan Howard-Birt with

Kofi Boamah | Ed Saye | Billy Crosby | Geraldine Swayne | Laura Wormell

Mahali O’Hare | Simon Burton | Kiera Bennett | Casper White | Hannah Murgatroyd

Alex Gene Morrison | Scott McCracken | Anne Ryan | Lucas Rankin

In the studio, Dan Howard-Birt makes small still life or text paintings. Larger stained or patterned paintings are made too. Holes are cut in the larger paintings and the smaller paintings are inserted into those holes. The large paintings containing other paintings are joined to other large, composite paintings, and new creative decisions are then required to bind these polyglot panels together.

Here, in addition to inserting his own smaller paintings, a collection of other artists have lent him their work, to temporarily inhabit these holes, adding further layers of decision making and potential meaning to his painting process. By absorbing one painting into the specific context of another Howard-Birt disrupts the fixed sense of their meaning and even authorship. He questions what it is to make a painting? What is it to make an exhibition? Can you make an exhibition inside a painting?


Leigh Curtis | Laura Wormell | Geraldine Swayne | Kiera Bennett | Phil King | Neal Tait | Giles Round | Kofi Boamah | Jeffrey Dennis | Lorna Robertson | Huhtamaki Wab | Adam Hedley

MAN DIGGING is a collection of open images by 11 painters. Open in the sense that they have not already been locked into tight narratives or descriptive appearances of truth. They are open too because the motif, or the process, might require of the painter that it be later re-explored or further turned-over.

Is painting like digging? Not really. Although the artist’s studio, like the vegetable patch, requires constant attention, and its activities can be rudimentary or repetitious.

This metaphor of repetitive toil, of digging, or turning-over, or excavating, or unveiling, is what binds the show together. It aims to expose something about the nature and process of being a ‘practicing’ artist, a sense of the necessity of going to the studio regularly and to perform certain basic actions again and again. The process of mixing up paint, pushing a brush, turning a canvas around or leafing through a pile of source material, is perhaps like tending an allotment – or digging trenches for the foundations for a building, or metal detecting – one from which new and surprising things of value and beauty will inevitably emerge.
Birds Digging1
Curating Painting