Focal Point Gallery is pleased to present a temporary public artwork by Southend artist David Watkins, commissioned for the external hoardings that are currently installed around the site of the former Beecroft Gallery located on Station Road in Westcliff. Painted directly on to the façade of the structure, this site-specific work will be visible leading up to the launch of the site following its conversion into 23 artist studios by Focal Point Gallery in late 2019.

Watkins’s practice begins with the theory of the ‘six degrees of separation’. Devised by American psychologist Stanley Milgram, the intent was to visually map the interpersonal connections that link people into a community. This idea has since informed the theory of small-world networks. Conversely, this refers to how connections between billions of people worldwide can be expressed through six nodes on a visual graph.

In 2015, Watkins compiled a series of drawings that traced the network of artists’, studios and spaces across Essex. Watkins uses this process of visualisation to make sense of the vast, imperceptible networks, such as the internet, that expand and intensify our social networks. With his interest in how materiality informs junctures or social clusters, Watkins employs gestural marks, free-flowing lines and a process of erasure and reworking to make these networks perceptible. The commission comes as a precursor to think about how the studios will create new possibilities for an expanding creative community in Southend, forging new connections and networks across South Essex and nation-wide.

About the artist: David Watkins (born Rochford, 1972) is an artist based in Southend-on-Sea. He studied painting at the University of Wolverhampton and the University of Buffalo in New York. His work has been included in select exhibitions: The Old Waterworks, Southend; The Gibberd Gallery, Harlow; Firstsite, Colchester; Surface Gallery, Nottingham; Southbank Centre, London; Lapinlahti Art Museum, Finland.