Visual art exhibitions and events with a platform for critical writing
Salisbury Libraries & Galleries
2 February 2005 to 3 March 2005
Reviewed by: »
I'm a sucker for visitor's books. Doesn't matter if it's a hotel, a museum or an art gallery, I can't resist checking out the thoughts other patrons felt were worth sharing. Once I stayed in a haunted hotel where a fellow guest claimed to have seen ET in his bath (my bath held only a spider) and the room full of comments at this year's Turner Prize was far more entertaining and thought-provoking than any of the work on show.
The only entry in the visitor's book at the On The Next Level - Space Between exhibition at Salisbury Library on Saturday 10th February was a confused child's "Why are people taking photos of our shoes?" Rather sweetly, she'd supplied her name and address in hopes of an answer. She'd probably be disappointed to learn that it was all part of a live artwork addressing contemporary attitudes to disability titled In Your Shoes by Internet artist Jess Loseby. Remarkably popular with Salisbury's teenage skater kids who seemed to really enjoy having their shoes photographed and broadcast over the Internet (possibly because teenagers spend a great deal of time shoe-gazing.
The exhibition successfully promoted inclusiveness, equality and access by providing a showcase for disabled and non-disabled artists (both amateur and professional) working in a variety of diverse mediums from painting and sculpture to photography and video via fabric and clothes design.
While some of the artwork on show overtly tackled the issues surrounding disability, for me the exhibition lacked a strong, unifying theme but despite (or perhaps because of) this there was much here to enjoy and the pieces I felt worked best were those with subtler preoccupations and universal appeal. Marion Michell's deceptively fragile papier-mache figures eloquently addressed the issues of body fascism and self-image particularly in her Figure With Extended Buttocks, an implicitly female figure whose huge, pendulous buttocks are completely out of proportion to her frame. I defy anyone looking at this piece not to hear Arabella Weir's demented "Does my bum look big in this?" Bonita Leatham's Barmouth Viaduct, Drag Queen and The Cyclist, lonely photographs of dilapidated old beach huts haunted by the sepia ghosts of bygone holidaymakers, possessed an eerie melancholy power echoed by Ken White's Uphill and Havalock, paintings that were the downbeat flipside to a Hovis ad.
James Lake's Space Between Us, two life-sized, disarticulated male figures separated by a small but unbridgeable gulf of only a foot or so was a multilayered study of isolation and fear of intimacy while Clare Fuller's sculpture of an embracing couple, I Was Trying To Wave To You But You Wouldn't Wave Back, was just the opposite, a desperate celebration of love expressed as physical need.
The most exciting work however was Jon Adams' beautifully tactile piece Structure 11, a 3D geological representation of South West England that begged to be touched and explored. A copper landscape rended by chunks of granite and embossed with distances, elevations and place names in Braille, this was art you had to get to grips with, levelling the playing field between dyslexic and non-dyslexic viewers and challenging our perceptions of blindness.
For me one of the joys of this exhibition was it's lack of explanation. The 50 or so artworks on show were accompanied only by the names of the individual artist who created that work. There was no biography, no information as to whether the artist was a professional or an amateur, disabled or not, straight or gay. Refreshingly the art was forced to stand alone, free of preconception and prejudice. That alone was worth the two hour journey from London.
Salisbury Library & Galleries »
Market Place, Salisbury SP1 1BL
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