An essay to accompany Fanny Ågren, Hannah deJonge, and Nele Bergman at Lot Projects.

It’s early summer and I go to visit one of Barbara Hepworth’s many Single Forms. This iteration, Single Form (Memorial) (1961-2), sits tucked away, guarded by squawking geese and swans, in Battersea Park. Like other variations of Hepworth’s Single Form, the artwork resembles a hag stone. It is mostly flat, irregularly oval, and pierced by a circular hole. Here, it is cast in bronze. As I look at it, I consider how an iterative art process – sometimes abstractly, sometimes literally – works in a rich correspondence with nature.

Prompted by Hepworth’s Battersea Park sculpture, I thought about the design of the earth and how it is awash with patterns and repetitions. Each turning season, the branches of a tree, a spiral on a snail’s shell, etc. The natural world is in a constant state of artful repetitious change. It’s happening right now and I feel it.

I grasp that as a result, the idea of change in nature is comfortably conveyable to and in art-making. It makes sense. As a source of both materials and references, nature is a bountiful foundation for an artist working in ongoing re-examinations. Nature’s propensity for repetition and flux can be mirrored in art’s processes and outcomes.

In preparing to write this text, I learned that St Ives School sculptor Barbara Hepworth (b. 1903) was a real devotee of re-examinations. For example: Throughout her career, she tirelessly crafted playful variations of her naturalistic Single Form – one duplication of which sits in Battersea Park. Each time she revised the form, she experimented with and refined material, texture, and scale. 

Put simply, iteration has been and continues to be an important way of working for artists. Hepworth and many others have used the process as a vehicle for creation and exploration. In doing so, they ambiguously elicit a reckoning with the ever-changing nature of things.

Ultimately, each repetitious change offers new perspectives; the artist is pushed forward by the discoveries made through their precise variations. At a distance, individual artworks blur and the links that live between them come into focus. In that topology, unifying nuances emerge.

As a conceptual vehicle, re-examinations can motor an artist’s making and enable an art practice in endless motion.

To me, it seems ideas and questions can evolve sluggishly, and loftily waiting for a sudden elusive moment of brilliant insight or inspiration is boring and counterproductive. The iterative process acts as a grease that helps to foster breakthroughs and forge meaning. Work begets inspiration.

As I see it, reiterations fertilise the artist’s compost heap. And just like a gardener tilling their soil, an artist working in continuous edits and re-edits tills their imagination. Each repetition plants new seeds and nurtures sprouting artistic growth. It is a feedback loop of evolving flux. Along the way, productive points are unearthed.

At Lot Projects, Fanny Ågren, Hannah deJonge, and Nele Bergmans are pulled and pooled together by their shared spiralling engagement with iteration. Fanny’s photography blooms into perpetually evolving sculptural images. Her artworks abstractly record place and hint at memories’ transformative and fluid nature. Hannah’s ceramics assemble repeated wheel-thrown forms into composite sculptures. Each one is an assemblage of abstracted natural creations that evoke memories associated with certain shapes. Nele employs fundamental actions of building and stacking, drawing on concepts like balance, scale, composition, and fragility to create poetic spaces. As an act of intuition, Nele allows the inherent qualities of the natural materials they work with to guide the artwork’s construction. The ever-changingness of nature and art is alive in all three of these artists’ corresponding practices. Each artwork builds on what came before and lays the groundwork for what’s next.

I know Fanny, Hannah, and Nele well so this is not an entirely impartial essay. I won’t pretend. But I believe that there is some ground for partiality when it comes to the ones close to you. More and more, I think all three of these artists are exceptionally gifted. Their work is truly intuitive, poetic, affecting, iterative. All great adjectives I am happy to be using.

Buttressed by a practice of repeating and refining, Fanny, Hannah, Nele, and Barbara Hepworth, amongst others, can and have formed a kind of ritualistic commitment to their art-making. It goes like this: Studio. Build, build upon what came before, then build upon that. And so on and so forth ad infinitum. Artworks occur as beautiful detritus along the way; reifications of their creative processes. Each artwork naturally embodies iteration as something capable of traversing the creative possibilities of flux.

Overall, iteration works as a spirited artistic strategy, promoting creative exploration well mirroring the ever-changingness of things.