‘Silence and Light’, Otter Gallery, University of Chichester: 26th September - 26th October 2006. Curated by Dr Brian Rigby. The exhibition catalogue contains 18 colour reproductions of the paintings and prints with an essay by Revd Dr Richard Davey, Nottingham Trent University. ISBN 1 095593 01 5. ‘More than a Book’ - international touring exhibition of artist books organised and sponsored by Skillman Library, Lafayette College’s Roethke Humanities Festival, the Williams Center for the Arts Gallery, and EPI; Centro Cultural, San Jose, Costa Rica: May 21 - June 2, 2006; Universidad Autonomo Metropolitan, Mexico City: October 1-21, 2006; Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK: January 2007. ‘Open and Shut - A Decade of Artist’s Books’ - EPI, Skillman Library, Lafeyette College, Pennsylvania : September–December 2006. Curated by Diane Windham Shaw, Special Collections Librarian and College Archivist.
Three individual prints from the series are part of the International Mini-Print Touring Exhibition (prize winner). The jurors were – Anne Desmet RE (Printmaker/ Editor Printmaking Today), Dale Deveraux Barker (Printmaker) and Sylvia Wright (Head of Cultural Arts and Heritage, Charnwood House). Exhibition Venues: Leicester Print Workshop/City Gallery 20 April - 4 May 2007; University College, Northampton 1 - 19 October 2007; Aberystwth Arts Centre, 18 November 2007 - 12 January 2008.
In 2005 I was selected from an international application to be artist in residence (artist/scholar) at the Experimental Printmaking Institute (EPI), situated at Lafayette College, Pennsylvania. The residency offered me an unprecedented opportunity to develop an ongoing interest in the architecture and writings of Louis I Kahn and the designs of Amish Quilts. Although both of these interests have different cultural, social and artistic ambitions, they share nevertheless a formal language of light, space, simplicity and order as well as a distillation and condensation of form and colour that resonate with my own concerns of realising the translation of geometric form through a reductive abstraction.
The outcome of the residency was an artist book work called ‘Silence and Light’ and related works through which I investigated abstraction and the sacred, in particular the problems involved in articulating silence and light in contemporary abstraction. Funding for the research was by the way of a Research Assistant, accommodation, subsistence, materials and return travel between the UK and US and was provided by Lafayette College’s Roethke Humanities Festival, the Williams Center for the Arts Gallery, Skillman Library, and EPI.
The Skillman Library located at Lafayette houses a rare book and contemporary artist book collection (including a second century papyrus, medieval manuscript leaves, early examples of the printing press and electronic texts) allowed further research into the potential of the book as an artistic genre. The methods used to realise this research were multiple plate aquatint etching and letterpress. This involved testing and inquiry of methods and materials in which geometric form and colour drawn from consistent and restricted repertoire were used in such a way to reveal metaphorical implications.
Silence and Light has been exhibited in ‘More than a Book’- an international touring exhibition of artist books organised and sponsored by EPI. The venues for the exhibition were Centro Cultural, San Jose, Costa Rica Universidad Autonomo Metropolitan, Mexico City and Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK. It also featured in Open and Shut - A Decade of Artist’s Books’ Curated by Diane Windham Shaw, Special Collections Librarian and College Archivist.
A solo exhibition was staged at the University of Chichester which contained both the artist book, individual prints and paintings from the research. A catalogue was published to accompany the exhibition and contains 18 colour reproductions of the paintings and prints with an essay by Dr Richard Davey of Nottingham Trent University. Three individual prints from the series were exhibited in the International Mini-Print Touring Exhibition where I was a prize winner. The venues were Leicester Print Workshop/City Gallery, University College, Northampton, Aberystwyth Arts Centre Gainsborough’s House, Sudbury. A catalogue accompanies the exhibition.
"Can a painting ever hope to capture such indefinable, nebulous qualities as silence and light? Can it step outside the boundaries of its physical and visual existence to represent the aural and invisible, giving shape to the sound of silence and form to light? This is the question that absorbs Duncan Bullen, … Like an alchemist, Bullen struggles to transform a base metal into precious gold, changing the coloured earth of his pigments into something luminous; its material physicality into something light and weightless. His alchemical tools the simple grammar of painting: colour, line, pattern, symmetry and shape.
"Artists have long sought to represent the elusive, transient effects of light, but Bullen doesn’t just want to represent it, he has set himself the task of recreating it, painting images that are themselves generators of silence and light. He tackles the problem like a chemist bringing together unstable compounds, gently positioning a semi-circle of deep blue next to another of lighter blue, or a half quatrefoil of deep purple- blue next to one of orange-red. As they come into contact with each other they seem to release a burst of energy, a zip or halo of light that radiates out to the viewer…
"When so much of the contemporary art world declares its allegiance to the illusory glitter of shallow surfaces; when it celebrates shock and ridicules the Universal, Bullen travels a different path. His jewel-like paintings are a quiet affirmation of all those things that are currently seen to be unfashionable; a manifesto for beauty, truth, and God. They are beacons of light and silence in a world of darkness and constant noise."
(Dr Richard Davey, 'Silence and Light,' Exhibition catalogue ISBN 1 095593 01 5)