My House Projects

Fight for sore eyes, presented at My House Gallery, is a part of the ‘Sideshow’ programme of exhibitions and events, which coincide with British Art Show 6 during its stay in Nottingham. With spectacles such as this, Sideshow could be poised to eclipse the large touring show.

My House Gallery, back in its original location in the reception room of a Victorian house in the suburbs of Nottingham, is completely transformed. Haribo and Pot Noodles adorn the walls of the entrance hall conspiring, along with the fantastic orange t-shirt of the host, to bring the prying eyes of the visitors to attention. There is music in the air, which is a striking, fun, rodeo type mix that makes it impossible to suppress a grin. Directed into the ‘bird-watching hut’, which is a stark contrast to the colour and busyness of the entrance hall, the visitor takes their position in front of one of two flaps. Lifting a flap, one is assaulted with abundance. A cleverly positioned mirror makes the space seem vast, and multiplies the objects that are layered and stacked, some moving, some making noise, all vying for attention. Impossible to describe, even sat before the vista, the complexity of the arrangement is astounding. Inevitably certain objects momentarily isolate themselves from the rest after the initial barrage: a tree like structure made from gleaming, colourful micro cars; a porcelain fountain issuing forth blue liquid, replete with yellow rubber ducks; an arched bridge, unconvincingly mimicking wood, atop which sits a rabbit with evil red eyes; the bird speeding in a circle near the ceiling.

The work is progressive: a light sporadically switched on and off maintains one’s attention as things come in and out of view, and dry ice gradually builds up, fogging one’s vision. There are also time-based elements: two videos that are looped, from which the ‘soundtrack’ emanates; one seeming to be an extreme advertisement set to baffle the senses, and the other adding a sinister edge to the scene with the creaking and laughter that we automatically associate with Halloween. The changing light conditions and the dry ice combine with the mirror to make the viewer unavoidably conscious of their position as spectator.

Ayling + Conroy have amplified the clamour of the high street in what could be considered a critique on consumer culture. However, the work appears to have deeper and more subtle concerns – it makes me think not ‘where is the art?’ but ‘forget the art’ as I embrace the full pleasure of unadulterated looking.