Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Review of This ‘Me’ of Mine at APT Gallery, Deptford

This ‘Me’ of Mine
curated by Jane Boyer
APT Gallery, Deptford
14 – 31 March 2013

Strange Cargo | Georges House Gallery, Folkestone
12 April – 7 May 2013

Sevenoaks Kaleidoscope Gallery, Sevenoaks
10 May – 29 June 2013

Art School Gallery, Ipswich Museum, Ipswich
Dates t.b.a.

The premise for this group exhibition, bringing together 15 artists, touring four venues, and curated by Jane Boyer, was to look at the notion of “the self in relation to context,” working on the assumption that none of us can exist external to some context or other, be it our social network, our location, our memories and past experiences, our current circumstances, or our perceptions. The works on display span various media, including a couple of digital video and sound pieces (Cathy Lomax’s Glass Menagerie, Pt 1 & Pt 2, 2011, and David Riley’s Bar EP Blues (kinetatic), 2011) and a printed scroll of coded and transcribed Twitter handles (David Riley, Twitter User Names: coded and transcribed, 2013), alongside some more nostalgic collections of objects which you might associate with your past as a child, playing with pinwheels on the beach (Hayley Harrison, Her, 2011), or visiting your grandmother and looking at her thimbles, glass animals, and coronation memorabilia (Kate Murdoch, It’s The Little Things, 2011).

There is a lot of grey in this exhibition, and no, that’s not just me bringing in the unseasonal chill from a sleeting Deptford creekside. In David Minton’s Peripheral Vision (2010), for example, which places a falling bird and its shadow on an otherwise empty canvas, the shadow of the non-contextual space hangs heavier than that of the unidentified bird. Similarly, the school class of Darren Nixon’s Untitled 30-5-11 (2011) scarcely manages to emerge from the lurking and almost sinisterly enclosing grey-black behind. The sense of transient youth and the hopeless promise of becoming, the acquisition of identity, and the incidental creation of memory, is something we can all relate to if we recall this annual “rite of passage” of posing awkwardly and being captured for posterity, usually in a most unflattering gurn.

Shadow plays a role in Shireen Qureshi’s Untitled Nude (2011) too, where the yellow torso fights to escape its oppressive black ground, perhaps struggling to form an impossible new self, free of context and binds?

Aly Helyer’s two pieces, Strange Fruit and Happy Family with Sheep (both 2007), look, to me, almost more like Rorschach tests, questioning the viewer’s perception and probing her psychological identity, whilst Sarah Hervey’s sketchy Purple Nude (2011) attempts to capture and pin this down, uncomfortably framing it in much the same way as Francis Bacon does his Screaming Popes.

For me, the most thought-provoking work by far is Anthony Boswell’s Time Box (2010), a small open box, with a mirror as its floor, and a clock in its ceiling/lid, ticking audibly, and reflecting deep down into the plinth below. The grisaille scene on the back wall provides a strangely disconcerting stage set, and the inverted grey chair reflects its upright counterpart, causing us to question which version is more accurate a representation of reality – the physical construction or its shadow; the present actuality or its mirrored memory; the way we see ourselves, or the reflection beheld by others?

Not all of the works in this exhibition are brilliant, and some rely more on concept than execution to pull them through, but, as a whole, the show hangs together well and indeed raises questions about the self, identity, and ways of seeing and of being seen. The bright spotlights, at least in venue number one, seem to place the visitor herself on the stage, and, as Boyer accurately asserts, this exhibition is very much a snapshot of humanity with ourselves in centre-frame.

For further information, essays, interviews with the artists, and links, please visit the exhibition’s blog at: http://thismeofmine.wordpress.com/


Kate Murdoch
It’s The Little Things 
50 x 60 cm

Darren Nixon
Untitled 30-5-11 
oil on canvas  
160 x 105 cm

Shireen Qureshi
Untitled Nude 
oil and charcoal on canvas  
76 x 50.5 cm

Aly Helyer
Happy Family with Sheep  
watercolour and ink on paper  
31 x 23 cm

Anthony Boswell
Time Box 
mixed media construction  
20.3 x 27.9 x 20.3 cm

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