Last year, the Contemporary Art Society acquired a significant work by Natalie Dower for the Mead Gallery, University of Warwick Art Collection. The founding collection of the University of Warwick was a group of abstract, colourfield paintings from 1965 and 1966, and ever since abstract painting has remained a constant focus. The work titled Red Flyer (1989) has a very precise resonance with the Mead Gallery as it previously featured in the exhibition Countervail at the gallery over two decades ago in 1993.
Natalie Dower works with the understanding that the growth of every living thing is governed by mathematical rules. Connected to the British Systems artists, Dower creates paintings that are free from overt references to the creator, or to the external world, and are solely derived from her own invented, predetermined systems. Dower aims to produce paintings that attract and hold the attention of the viewer, with the underlying concept or system being at the core of their creation. Over a period of six years, Dower’s paintings, reliefs and sculptures were influenced by the ‘Dudeney Dissection‘, a dissection popularised by the Victorian mathematician Henry Ernerst Dudeney.
In her book Line of Enquiry, Natalie Dower said:
The dissection divides an equilateral triangle into four irregular shapes that can be reassembled as a square. Stranger still, the operation can be carried out with shapes hinged together in a chain. In my exploration of this, I made a three-dimensional paper model – a chain of seven facets with right angel turns at each join, triangles at each end, two transitions to the square in the middle, and two different transitions back to a triangle.
Red Flyer is part of this series and is constructed out of individual painted wood sections. The work was integral to Countervail, a series of three exhibitions that examined abstract painting by women and focused on work that was a response to systems.
Natalie Dower (b. 1931, London, UK) lives and works in Portugal and the UK. Natalie Dower’s current work relates to the properties of a Root-2 rectangle. Her work has been shown in exhibitions around the world with recent exhibitions including The Loud & Western Building, London (2015), Eagle Gallery, London (2014); Austin/Desmond Fine Art, London (2012); and Réalités Nouvelles, Paris (2012).
You can see Red Flyer (1989) permanently installed at The Mead Gallery, University of Warwick Art Collection.
The Mead Gallery, University of Warwick, Gibbet Hill Rd, Coventry, West Midlands CV4 7AL. Open (during University term time only), Monday – Saturday 12.oo – 19.00 and Sunday closed. www.warwickartscentre.co.uk/mead-gallery