The Cobalt Blue Group

The Cobalt Blue artist group present their second group exhibition in a disused office space in Birmingham’s business district. Their aim is to engender a conversation about the exhibition with those visitors who might not usually engage with art. To this end, the organisers have encouraged visitors to spend time in the space, eat their lunch there and relax there. Various thematic strands run throughout the exhibition, the strongest and most successful of which are an engagement with language, with layering and with uncanny interiors.

One of Gavin Lawley’s works is a series of three glass padlocked boxes stacked inside one other. Minimal and poetic, these boxes provoke consideration of what sort of substance could be so powerful that it must be held so securely. Paul Hirst and Joanne Henderson’s evocative paintings owe a debt to the surrealists, evoking strange and disconcerting domestic spaces streaked with ectoplasm and familial memory. These artists channel into and reveal those things that have been lost.

A similar tension is contained within Lynda Whitehouse’s remarkable monochromatic print depicting a precarious stack of office chairs. Connecting with its context of display, these delicately rendered objects are on the verge of collapse within the paper’s frame, a tension that is palpable and plays off its clean, formal qualities and its immaculate rendering. Elsewhere, language comes to the fore. In paintings by Mohsen Keiany, folkloric serpents, fair maidens and bearded men jostle for position with layerings of text and drawing, lines which are gauged out of the works’ surface.

In sculptures by Anna Mitchell, text is impressed into the surface of the clay, offering glimpses of conversations imagined or otherwise. There is a timeless quality at work here, and in the exhibition as a whole, a sense of meanings partially revealed but ultimately lost as they slip between those proverbial fingers.