There Is No Present

Exhibition Information

Painter Michael Williams brings together ideas generated by the architecture of the wartime pillboxes on the North Norfolk Coast and a set of buildings on Berlin Wannsee. Through this act of painting the artist extracts images that investigate that millisecond between Past and Future.

Michael Williams

Fri 1 Oct – Fri 15 Oct

Handa Gallery
Wells Maltings


‘There is no Present!’

“There is no present” is an idea first cited by the 20th C poet and writer Ezra Pound in ‘Blast!’ the 1914 manifesto of the English Vorticist Movement. The statement proposes that only the past and future exist, and that the millisecond of our Present is merely defined by both.
In my work I investigate whether Modernist ideas and approaches to Visual Art still have currency in a “Postmodernist” world. These two descriptors and what they each represent ideologically, are the lynchpin that pulls together my visual ideas and concepts formed over 40 plus years as a Visual Artist.
Many Art makers don’t question their place/position within these quite stringent ideological definitions put in place and defined by Artists, Art writers and critics over decades. Quite often their contributions to the debate have created a rift in many peoples understanding of the two clearly inter-connected ‘isms; one flowing – in my opinion – seamlessly into the other. The past and the future, and in that millisecond between the two me – the visual artist.


Architecture is the physical manifestation of human ideas about social ideology, Colour, Light, Space, Form and symbols of status. Through mainly sequential approaches to making I explore these qualities as they are defined by two very specific sets of buildings, the wartime bunkers and defensive structures sited along the North Norfolk Coast where I live, close to the gallery in Wells-Next-The-Sea, and a particular set of buildings found at Berlin Wannsee Strandbad; a place I visit regularly.
Both sets of structures have no intrinsic links other than they were built within a short time of each other. However, the catalysts for how each was used were driven by certain historical factors that do inadvertently connect them. One group of buildings with the function to provide a playground for Berliners and National Socialist Party employees and their families, the other to defend a coastline from attack by forces representing those same people; an irony I find inherently fascinating.
My work in this exhibition attempts to explore both the physical/visual connections and the ideological disjoints that in some way explain the meanings of these buildings as metaphors for our past and our future. The paintings in this exhibition evidence my ongoing fascination with the aesthetic/intellectual discourse between Modernism and Postmodernism, as they might apply to these buildings with all their inherent contradictions and connotations.

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Call: 01328 710885


The Maltings,
Staithe Street,
Norfolk NR23 1AU
United Kingdom

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