Alistair Frost’s exhibition offered two kinds of artistic creativity: that were produced by the artist in isolation and that made in cooperation with BACKLIT Gallery’s studio artists and the visitors who came to see the show. In Frost’s own words, the exhibition placed a deliberate emphasis on ‘isolation versus connectivity’ and how these two approaches lead to markedly different artistic outcomes. The paintings and drawings in the largest gallery space were created by Frost alone in his rural Gloucestershire studio over the past two years and reflect a new direction for the artist. Graduating from Glasgow School of Art in 2004 and the Royal College of Art in 2007, and then completing a residency at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam, Frost is now making a painting that appears to be quite formal but asks us to look twice at familiar shapes and other imagery.
They are also the works of an artist who is dedicated to the painting tradition and desires to make artworks that are immune to passing fashions and the background noise of digital chatter. By contrast, the mural and the ‘Amazing Human Fruit Machine’ were both made in cooperation with Backlit’s studio artists and require manual interaction. The mural incorporated a selection of studio artists’ objects and artworks and so acts as a still life of artistic activity at Backlit. The human fruit machine was devised by Frost but built by studio artists and also connected informally with Backlit’s history and local social history. Finally, the fruit machine also represented the artist emerging from his studio to co-operate with the gallery audience who play this decidedly ‘analogue’ game of chance.