‘Timeframe’ at No Format Gallery, Deptford, London SE14, September 2021

This exhibition looked at the different ways that the nature of time and space over the last eighteen months affected how the artists of HB Drawing worked and what they made.

The physicist Carlo Rovelli, describing Albert Einstein’s unified concept of space and time says it is ‘a structured whole rather than a succession of instants’. A spacetime continuum which isn’t fixed but can flex and curve. And Einstein’s theory of general relativity predicts that time will pass at different speeds in different places. 

The time of Covid has shown us how space and time in our own lives can flex as circumstances change, more than we could ever have expected. And how time seems to move at different speeds for different people.

For all of us the space of our lives was constrained and shrank. 

Some explored that constrained space more slowly and carefully. Others returned in thought to distant places now out of reach.

For some, as space shrank, the time available to them seemed to expand, allowing them to spend more time working, perhaps embarking on long, large or slow drawings that might, at other times, have seemed too daunting. Or picking up media and methods we had put down or never got round to trying.

For others the expanded time, without external pressures and with no certain end point, raised questions about how to choose what to do. They faced the ‘paradox of choice’ when having many options to choose from, rather than making people happy and ensuring they get what they want, becomes stressful and paralysing.

Time is never endless. Even this time of apparently endless time is ending. Arnold Bennett in his under-appreciated book How to Live on Twenty-Four Hours a Day remarks that ‘We shall never have any more time. We have, and have always had, all the time there is.’ 

The work in this show is what we made of the time we had.