Kerry Steitvart’s work touches the recall button on childhood fears
and fantasies. Susanna Beaumont
on the art of remembering.
Kerry Stewart apologises. She doesn’t have much to say about her work and she’s sorry: ‘I did have things to say a few years ago but not really any more. Now I mightjust start making things up that are complete rubbish.’ So as we weave our way around her plaster and polystyrene painted ﬁgures. our conversation warms-up on other themes. But every so often through conversational juggling, I throw a question about one of the silent sculptural ﬁgures that ﬁll the gallery at CCA. Yet Stewart
Perhaps because Stewart doesn‘t keenly offer words about her work, writers have come up with theories. One stems from the fact that at thirteen she left her native Scotland and with her family moved to London. A new kid on the metropolis block and with an accent that many couldn't understand, she
llalry creature: Untitled (lucy) by llerry Stewart
felt isolated . . . and as a result her sculptural ﬁgures. made decades later, are of ‘outsiders'. Stewart understandably balks at this line of thinking.
But however you cut it. Stewart’s ﬁgures do seem to be drawn from a rather desolate social landscape. Remember childhood days when identical twins were the source of curious speculation in the classroom? Names muddled and their identities confused. to other children — unvcrsed in social sensitivity and quick to jeer — twins can be
intriguing phenomena. In Stewart's Twins. two young boys stand side by side. Wean'ng identical outﬁts of jumpers and trousers. their eyes gaze out blankly. Stewart has caught two ﬁgures who seem on the outskirts of the fun and games of the playground — but perhaps on the receiving end of the ‘fun'. Likewise in Untitled (Pregnant Schoolgirl). Here dressed in her school uniform stands a girl — or is she a woman? — her pregnancy clearly visible. But where as twins might elicit sympathy. the schoolgirl doubtless has to bargain with shame. Besides. for many. she has brought this ‘predicament' on herself and has only herself to blame.
Stewart. one of only 26 artists to appear in the British Art Show earlier this year. does seem to touch a nerve. Walking around her ﬁgures is like having a visual prompt to shufﬂe through childhood memories of terrifying fears and thrilling fantasies. Ghost is a large ghost - of the sheet covered variety. Ever spooky though it is blatantly unreal. Stewart says ‘there's something quite exciting about making a big toy.‘ But for anyone who has hidden under the bedclothes scared of what's lurking beyond, the fear — though now tempered by grown-up no nonsense — continues to lurk.
Similarly The Boy From The Chemist Is Here To See You touches the recall button. But this time there's a touch of guilt. Viewed through a frosted glass door. the ﬁbreglass boy is like one of those ﬁgures of children once found on the high street. With a leg in callipers and a meek. downcast look he holds a donations box. Seeking charity. this ‘helpless begging‘ iconography has now been discarded. But the boy. as with Stewart's other ﬁgures. brings to mind the stares of curiosity that were such a part of chﬂdhood.
K erry Steii'urt. CCA. Glasgow until 9 Not:
For the 08’s black community, 16 October 1995 was an important day in its history. Organised by the controversial lslamic minister, louis Farakhan, the Million Man March in Washington or: was a massive one- day event that set out to empower the black American man. In his exhibition MMM, American documentary photographer, Charles Daniels, records the vast crowds who congregated on the steps of The Capital.
Born in Alabama in the 508, Daniels remembers how life was in the 38’s deep south: ‘l remember what segregation In the South was like. it bothers me that we haven’t done more with the victories that were so hard won in the civil rights
Political moves: the Million Men March held last year in Washington oc
destroying our families, and impacting the community as a whole. Black men bare a large responsibility in working to reverse this trend.’
One of the most interesting of the black and white photographs, illustrates the sell-elevating mission oi the day. With the vast Capital building in the background, a group of young men stand high atop a statue ot former president, James Garfield, while in the immediate loreground an older white man passes looking befuddled by the scene. Unfortunately, despite the worthy political motivations oi the photographs, they fail to break any new ground visually, and in the and leave the viewer wanting more. But they should do something to change opinions, as Daniels said ‘Pollticlans
movement.’ For Daniels, MMM introspection. As such, Daniels will never take us seriously until we
served to illustrate the political photographs appropriately become a block oi voters they have
lorce that the black population concentrate on, as he puts it, ‘the to respect. I think in the past year,
wan'ant. men who came to clean their own we have begun to change some Billed as a ‘day of atonement’, house.’ As to the tact it was a male attitudes’. (Brock Lueck)
mm was about black men looking only march Daniels explains: “Drugs MMM is at Doorway, Glasgow until
inwards in a kind of communal and black on black violence are sum Oct.