Rita Evans: Portable Portals: Text by Amy Lay-Pettifer

17 September - 30 October 2021

Portable Portals


Reality is having a laugh at our expense. A deep, elongated belly laugh that creates ripples in the heavy, velvet fabric of our world. You go to move but have learned (the hard way) that what was once concrete, is now more likely to give way beneath you. It is sticky, it is absorbing, it is quite possibly jelly. Day in day out, this wrong-footing makes its own rhythm, an anti-heartbeat that stutters uncontrollably, or else stretches and lags like neon strings of gum. The rhythm is not quite danceable, but it becomes possible, gradually, to live by. It is an adjustment - the refocusing of a lens so that initial blurriness forms suddenly sharper edges. Soft bewilderments becoming geometry before your cat-like eye. 


In this series of drawings, begun in the tumultuous summer of 2020, Rita Evans gives form and vivid colour to the experience of processing seismic global events from the slippery edge of the bath. Hers is an intensified interior landscape, the site of malleable, transformative encounters between us and the textures of our domestic world. There is precarity and disintegration at every turn, but there is endless possibility too. Her abstraction of bodies, objects and spaces into a common visual language of colour and shape, creates their shared and equal potential for slippage, for movement that is fluid - queasy but full of juice.


Each of these drawings is the holding of a moment. Out of solitude, stillness and the tactile process of pencil on paper, a space opens up, expansive and exciting; suddenly there is a crowd, a problem, a question, a door! They map our desire for communication and physical touch, tracing its edges and forming blueprints for its expansion beyond limits, both real and of the mind. 


I for one am grateful for the strategies they suggest. For something fantastic. For laughing. For a door where there wasn’t a door. For wherever we are at this moment - necessarily indoors or ecstatically out - striding toward one another, nothing but jelly underfoot. 


Amy Lay-Pettifer, 2021