Philip Faulks 

Black Treacle 

4 - 18 March 2023

“Black Treacle” – is the title for Philip Faulks’ latest presentation, which includes ink, gouache and pencil works on paper, a compelling assemblage sculpture, comprised predominantly of sea sponge and a large and complex paper-cut. The title in itself is well worth investigating, which is often the case with a Philip Faulks exhibition – as he has a wonderful ability to connect evocative language with his inventive imagery.

The phrase “Black Treacle” suggests a range of possibilities – and perhaps some of these caramelised, ambrosial elements act simultaneously – and so, the title suggests that the viewer might find multiple pathways to “reading” the existing narratives and symbolism which is so eloquently addressed in these images.

Depending on the location or the point in time, whether Ancient Greece or latter day Lonsdale Street - Black Treacle - apart from its more obvious culinary applications, has been used variously as a medicinal antidote against venom and also as a salve or balm; as a substitute for malt in the brewing of ale; as a preventative against scurvy; it also appears in the form of a Treacle Well, with particular healing properties, mentioned by Lewis Carroll in “Alice In Wonderland” - and in one interesting case from a 1774 Yorkshire township, it was used as a substitute for tar – when a villager found to be guilty of sexual improprieties, had to endure the humiliation of being “treacled and feathered”, then carried through the streets in a hand barrow.

Tins of Black Treacle, whilst revered for their long shelf life, have on occasions also been known to explode. Complex and versatile, sweet and sour – displaying many properties and offering multiple readings, as do Philip’s intricate and at times, labyrinthine works.

In this exhibition we are privileged to witness both Philip’s intellectual dexterity and also his extraordinary ability to think of an image – and in almost the same instant – to transfer the thought, (which prior to the moment had not existed) via the hand, to the paper.

Whether it be community considerations, family connections, societal, environmental and political issues or the pros and cons of various belief systems – all this - and so much more is realised in these elegantly conceived and executed images. 

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