Visual art exhibitions and events with a platform for critical writing
27 May 2 September
Reviewed by: Hilary Jack »
A stroll through an abundant English meadow is a sensory experience few of us can enjoy, as urban sprawl and industrial scale farming increasingly take control of our wild spaces. Ruth Moilliet offers her audience something of this bucolic pleasure in a sculptural installation Meadowlands, at Gallery Oldham.
Best known for her large-scale metal sculptures of seed heads, Moilliet has turned her thoughts to conservation and preservation. Dismayed by the decline of Britains meadows, Moilliet began working with wildflower petals, placing them between clamped glass, reminiscent of the Victorian flower press and of scientific slides under a microscope.
Meadowlands is an ambitious extension of this body of work. Eighteen glass panels standing in staggered formation, encase thousands of wildflower petals sprouting life from rusted metal bases, like portals allowing us a vista into another world. Moving through these panels a field of vision is created, not dissimilar to the experience of being in the midst of a snowstorm of falling blossom, albeit frozen in time.
Moilliets use of industrial materials halts overtly romantic overtones, and at first seems incongruous. Its better understood with the knowledge that the work is partly inspired by Moilliets discovery of wild meadows beside car-choked motorways, and of the efforts of Landlife, an environmental charity encouraging wildlife into urban sites. The tension between materials acts as metaphor for the battle of wills between human and nature, pointing to darker connotations of the human impact on our landscape and the strength of nature against adversity.
The project hints at the dilemma faced by the conservationist. As Moilliet collects, and thereby destroys, the flowers she seeks to protect, her actions are a premature end of the line for the thousands of flower heads she has picked. Redressing the balance, Moilliet and Gallery Oldham are working with the community and Country Side Services to create wildflower plots in the locality, a perfect example of how an artists vision can inspire positive action; a gesture that will also act as a lasting legacy for Meadowlands.
Hilary Jack is an artist.
Gallery Oldham »
Oldham Cultural Quarter, Greaves Street, Oldham OL1 1AL
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