Martyn Chalk: A Retrospective at Artlink

Published: Tuesday 7th March 2017 by Rich Sutherland

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As part of Princes Avenue’s activity for Hull UK City of Culture 2017, Artlink presents Martyn Chalk: A Retrospective.

The exhibition is a selection of the Hull-based artist’s drawings and constructions, handpicked by Chalk himself.

“Martyn has been an active artist in Hull since the 1960s,” explains Kenn Taylor, Creative Director of Artlink.

“It’s the Made in Hull season at the moment and this is Artlink’s response to that.”

The curation spans from Martyn’s early works to his more recent pieces:

“This exhibition is a survey of his practice, featuring his first pieces to things he may have been working on just a couple of weeks ago,” Kenn continues.

Martyn Chalk

As a retrospective, it explores the intricate development of Chalk’s style and techniques.

The artist uses a range of waste materials collected from skips and other sources. These objects are then used as a starting point to inspire the end result.

This practice developed when he was just a young boy. He would collect scraps of wood and start to make things without any real idea of what the end product would look like.

“The work on display includes sculpture, drawing and three-dimensional work. Visually, it is quite abstract, featuring muted colours of blacks, greys and whites.”

Established in the 1980s, Artlink is a community and participatory arts organisation.

“This means that we collaborate with people on creative projects. We do this through a number of ways, including public engagement schemes and working with communities to create art.”


The gallery on Princes Avenue shows this work alongside art from creators across Hull and the region.

“This is where Martyn Chalk’s work comes in,” Taylor adds. “The exhibition closely follows the Made in Hull theme to celebrate local talent.”

The inspiration behind Martyn’s early work comes from Camilla Gray’s The Great Experiment, which was published in 1962.

The book focused on Russian artists from 1863-1922. In particular, she described the lost works of Vladimir Tatlin as ‘Missing Presumed Destroyed,’ because the only records available were poor, faded photographs. The book was the source of Chalk’s first reconstructions in 1966.

After a few years, these two reconstructions had been exhibited all over the world, in London, Canada, Sweden, Holland and Australia.

The seventies saw more material become available to reconstruct, and Annely Juda of Annely Juda Fine Art in London suggested that Chalk should extend his project.

In 1981, an exhibition entitled Missing Presumed Destroyed took place at Ferens Art Gallery. It displayed seven reconstructions. The curation travelled to Annely Juda Fine Art and the Tokyo Gallery in Japan.

The interest in Tatlin increased as years went by, and new sources released further images of his work after the end of the Cold War. Three further reconstructions were commissioned and widely exhibited around the globe.

Until Saturday 1 April you can view images of ten reconstructions by Russian artist Vladimir Tatlin. These are alongside Chalk’s retrospective works.

Meanwhile, a preview of Chrissy Collinson’s Art from the Tenfoot, a series of micro landscape pieces, is on display in the Spotlight Gallery.

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Artlink Centre for Community Arts is located at 87 Princes Avenue in Hull. To find out more, please visit

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Published: Tuesday 7th March 2017 by Rich Sutherland

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