Louisa Fairclough


Louisa Fairclough
Mental Falls
9 March - 13 April 2024
Extended to Saturday 18 May, by appointment only

Feel Stupid film still

Feel Stupid 2024
film still

Mental Falls is Louisa Fairclough’s fourth exhibition at Danielle Arnaud gallery. It features a new expanded 16mm film installation, a lyrical essay film and an audio work. This body of work was made by the artist before, during and after a lengthy period of mental illness.

Mental Falls (2022) is an essay film weaving the voices of singers with Louisa's own voice in a close observation of her sister Hetta Fairclough's sketchbook. Hetta (1973-2008) produced a remarkable sketchbook of drawings which take the form of assemblages and visual poems. Her drawings probe at the complexities of being, pulling on her own experience to give voice to psychological intensities. Page by page Louisa’s interpretation of her sister’s drawings - spoken and sung - becomes the soundtrack to the film.

Feel Stupid (2024) is an expanded film installation with five 16mm film loops that stretch across the gallery space. The film installation, made with Louisa’s long-term collaborators, composer Richard Glover, singer Samuel Middleton and performer Nancy Trotter Landry, once again responds to a drawing from Hetta’s sketchbook as a sonic score. The page now smudged with the shadow of time has strips of masking tape that hinge from the centre over folded newspaper cuttings. Along each length of masking tape is a phrase she's written in felt-tip pen. Shards of these phrases were intoned and recorded onto tape; they now splinter across the film loops like a maelstrom of anxious thoughts. Projected onto five small pieces of float glass are gestures illuminated by a flashgun, glimpses of a pulling down and a contracting of things, an embodiment of some sort of reality that is not, a turmoil inside the head and body.


View the installation


Sparse and delicate, Human Interaction (2019/24) responds to another page from Hetta’s sketchbook in which a feather pressed under laminate has the words HUMAN INTERACTION written five times along the feather’s shaft. The phrase was sung over and over whilst being recorded onto tape to create a slow composite harmony. The 19-minute composition was devised with composer Richard Glover and performed by singer Samuel Middleton and musician George McKenzie. The recording is pressed onto a vinyl dub plate.

Hetta’s Sketchbook (Human Interaction) (2014) is a single photograph from a photographic series in which Louisa holds Hetta’s sketchbook, the hand processed photographs were made in collaboration with Milo Newman.

Feel Stupid was commissioned by and made with the support of Arts University Plymouth (MIRROR Gallery). Hetta’s Sketchbook (Human Interaction) (2014) is from a photographic series made with the support of ICIA University of Bath.

Louisa Fairclough’s work mainly takes the form of film loops, choral performances, field recordings and drawings. She is soon to start work on a second essay film exploring her lived experience of psychosis.

Louisa graduated from the Slade School of Fine Art (MFA Distinction) in 2000. She has since taught at many art colleges, curated a screening and talks programme entitled Mezz from 2009 – 2011 and co-founded Bristol Experimental and Expanded Film in 2015 with the core aim of supporting and nurturing experimental film practice in Bristol.

Louisa’s exhibitions include Contact: Perpetual Possibility at Iklectik, London (2023); Screening of Mental Falls at Danielle Arnaud (2022); Mutations Migrations, Cinema Metamorphosis at Musée Atelier, Nantes, France (2021); Alchemy Film Festival, Hawick, Scotland (2019); A Song Cycle for the Ruins of a Psychiatric Unit – a solo show at Danielle Arnaud, London (2017; VOICE IMAGES at Swiss Church, London (2017); Rojas and Rubensteen Projects, Miami, USA (2017); The Incidental Musicality of a Chance Encounter was a sound installation and new drawings commissioned for the Estuary Festival (2016); BRUCE MCCLURE + SALLY GOLDING + LOUISA FAIRCLOUGH at The Cube Microplex, Bristol (2015); I wish I could be a stone – a solo show at Danielle Arnaud, London (2014); Absolute Pitch and Compositions for a Low Tide commissioned by Whitstable Biennale 2014; Jeannie commissioned by Bristol New Music for the Arnolfini, Bristol (2014); Flecks of a Brighter Colour at ICIA University of Bath; an installation of Song of Grief at Film in Space curated by Guy Sherwin at Camden Art Centre, London (2013); a month-long residency and solo show at Ha gamle Prestegard, Norway (2012); Ground Truth – Louisa’s first solo show at Danielle Arnaud, London (2011) and Deep Grief, a residency at Meantime Project Space, Cheltenham (2011).

Louisa’s work is discussed by Abadie, K. (2023) Humanity Undone: A Practice led Enquiry into Self-Injury (University of Plymouth); Knowles, K. (2020) Experimental Film and Photochemical Practices; Broome, H. (2017) Studio International review of A Song Cycle for the Ruins of a Psychiatric Unit; Lear, R. (2017) This is Tomorrow review of A Song Cycle for the Ruins of a Psychiatric Unit; Baugh, T. (2015) An Artistic Equivalence of my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (University of Plymouth); Buenfeld-Murley, G. (2014) I wish I could be a stone; Smyth, C. (2011) Cutting the Skin of the Moment; Moloney, C. (2012) This is Tomorrow review of Ground Truth.