REVIEW CRAFT TAKING TIME: CRAFT AND THE SLOW REVOLUTION Dovecot Studios, Edinburgh, until Wed 10 Mar ●●●●●
Warmly welcomed into the exhibition space by Shane Waltener and Cheryl McChesney Jones’ colourful ‘Stepping and Stitching’ you might feel comfortable enough to take a seat and knit or knot a contributory piece to this collaboration between an artist and a dance choreographer. Indeed, working in collaboration seems to be the way forward for many of the exhibitors in the Dovecot’s collection of modern craft – though that is not to belittle the painstaking attention to detail in Sue Lawty’s solo ‘Stone Drawing’. At several junctures the viewer is
invited to take part, or offered a seat from which a particular work might be best seen. While the delicacy of some creations demands a respectful distance, others might welcome a more hands-on participation. This proves somewhat frustrating. An old-style typewriter (which invites public participation) punctures the quiet of the exhibition almost rudely, while delicate blue and white china from Paul Scott and Ann Linnemann begs to be held and closely scrutinised but remains forbidden to eager hands.
Items on display range from the eminently practical to the peculiar, begging the question of how modern craft is defined. Is a digital tapestry any less moulded by the hands of the artist than the traditional cloth variety? Many of the works cross the boundaries of craft to embrace fashion, installation and sculpture, but a reflection on the place of art in the modern world might suggest that all distinctions are now blurring. If this is the case then Taking Time is surely at the forefront of an evolution of sorts. (Miriam Sturdee)
REVIEW PAINTING & INSTALLATION TOBY PATERSON: CONSENSUS AND COLLAPSE Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, until Sun 28 Mar ●●●●●
The fear of knocking over an exhibit – along with mistaking an artwork for a bench or a light switch for a sculpture – is a point of comic reference frequently bandied around in relation to the physical experience of contemporary art galleries. This conditioned response comes into play when traversing the specially designed installation that currently dominates the lower floor of the Fruitmarket Gallery. Parallelling Glasgow artist Paterson’s continued interest in the physical experience of the urban landscape, large suspended criss-crossing panels – upon which paintings, reliefs and constructions from 2003 to 2009 are embedded – force a careful negotiatiation of the densely packed space. Delineating the planes, forms and brightly-coloured politics of postwar modernist architecture, Paterson’s accomplished works reference a montage of idealised and reconfigured structures. Seen from the varied vantages that the unusual construction proffers, including the glimpsed, obscured and reflected, it’s a dizzying yet familiar selection that seems to simultaneously represent everywhere and nowhere. Although titles and narrative desciptions reference
real architecture and actual sites – for example Coventry buildings The Precinct (Bull Yard) (2005) and New Civic Centre (2005) – the artist’s mild depictions render them strangely sourceless. Similarly toying with notions of reality and abstraction, Paterson pays homage to the designs of 1960s Glasgow architectural firm Gillespie, Kidd & Coia with obtusely named works Suburban Church (2003) and Church in a New Town (2003). The curatorial approach taken here has been
previously evinced in Fruitmarket solo shows by Claire Barclay and Lucy Skaer. It’s a sort of neo-retrospective in which Paterson’s developing practice is examined in the context of a new commission, and as such, the ground floor works form a coda through which large new installation Backwards and Forwards (Obstructions Composed from Obsolete Forms) (2010) is read. While in the past this curatorial device has been sucessful, it seems reductive here, rendering Paterson’s large space-altering work merely illustrative of conceits explored downstairs. These are works that play ball with the old universal
thematics of idealism and entropy, but this presentation is a little dry, and although the initial effects are attention-grabbing and impressive, the true complexity of these works has not been given space to unfold. (Rosalie Doubal)
REVIEW MIXED MEDIA DARREN BANKS: SOOTHSAYERS / OONAGH HEGARTY: TABLOID ALCHEMY Sierra Metro, Edinburgh, until Sun 28 Feb ●●●●●
It’s Hell in there. Or at least it sounds like it. From the moment you step into Sierra Metro’s concrete darkness, you’re hit with a barrage of visual and aural loops, from Italian goresploitation flicks to bug-eyed retro-future sci-fi, grim reaper-obsessed kids’ cartoons and other paraphernalia seemingly put together from a skip-load of analogue artefacts that make up the heart of Darren Banks’ scarifying junkyard constructions. Loungecore cooing underscores the screaming, ghosts in the machine shine through negligées and upended workbenches are left for dead.
Banks cites Otto Dix’s 1933 allegorical anti-Nazi painting, ‘The Seven Deadly Sins’, as casting a black cloud of influence over his work. In reality, Soothsayers’ insistent, three-dimensional explosion more resembles comic book anti-hero Ghost Rider cast as part Horseman of the Apocalypse, part trash culture savvy Steptoe picking up a wagon-load of schlock-age detritus made kitsch.
Tucked away in Room 2, the discretion of Oonagh Hegarty’s Tabloid Alchemy is an altogether less attention-seeking construction, both in scale and volume. Given its star-struck subject matter, however, this is a wilfully apposite strategy, as Spirograph patterns circle around little versions of celebrity culture silhouettes, while out of context close-ups of Britney Spears are immortalised in a Sellotape-encrusted jewel-box. Little doll’s house models made from cardboard scraps offer a draughtsman’s eye-view into less than perfect cribs. Such a deliberate counterpoint between Banks and Hegarty’s work takes you from the end of the world to self-destruction in a few short steps, suggesting that all life as we imagine it – if not quite the reality – is here. (Neil Cooper)
4–18 Feb 2010 THE LIST 89