For his third solo exhibition for Vane, ‘The end has no end’, Stephen Palmer has produced a series of drawings based on clippings from daily newspapers. The depicted stories are not strictly speaking ‘news’ but rather they look to update or reanalyse historic events. Each clipping is painstakingly rendered in word perfect detail, a process of transcription that has the effect of conferring value and worth to events that may otherwise appear of little relevance or importance.

Whilst the selection of stories might at first appear random, covering ufology, World War Two, a chess match and stamp collecting; the featured topics are those that attract a kind of fanatical and obsessive following. Newspapers themselves have a particular value to obsessive hoarders and collectors, who fill their homes with tabloids and broadsheets, hoping perhaps that the information contained within will impart knowledge, concretise memories or offer up a form of control that is otherwise lacking in their lives. Many of the stories are given currency through reference to a more recent ‘hot’ news topic: In A shrine for St Roald the failing property market is juxtaposed with a fascination for spaces once inhabited by famous authors; Aristocrat’s stamp collection references the MPs’ expenses scandal by way of a pre-penny postage practice that allowed Members of Parliament to send and receive letters free of charge. In The way to the village, wartime atrocities are shrouded by a poetic title while the story links the current European financial crisis with reparation payments for events that happened more than fifty years ago.

A continuing fascination with the events and personalities of the Second World War are also referenced in a group of works that look at the museumification of historic objects and buildings. Codebreaker’s block refers to the listed status of buildings at Bletchley Park where wartime codebreakers cracked the Enigma code, a site now considered by many to be the birthplace of modern information technology. In 65 years ago today, the dock at Nuremburg, where Nazis were tried for crimes against humanity, is put on display along with other objects and documents that relate to the trials. Of no great architectural or design significance, it is the nature of the events that took place there that has turned these sites into visitor attractions.

In a group of ‘anonymous’ obituary drawings, the deletion of text from the original articles leaves only a visual clue to the departed person’s story. A single photographic image acts as a lasting tribute, a summation of a life lived and a reminder that our legacy may be based on only a few memorable events. These obituary drawings also reflect a number of male literary or filmic stereotypes – the lover, the thinker, and the gambler – to form a ‘casual’ taxonomy of male gender roles.

At a time when the printed publication, and the newspaper in particular, is threatened by a proliferation of online and virtual content, Palmer’s drawings can be viewed as an obituary to the newspaper in its current form, but also a reminder that – rather than superseding them – virtual means of content delivery often come to coexist alongside the physical formats that they look to improve upon. The physical object may be outmoded or even redundant in terms of its original purpose, but it is able to impart a validity that is somehow lacking in its virtual replacement.

Read Rebecca Travis’ essay Modern life is rubbish