Sevenoaks Kaleidoscope Gallery

Scopos'(the watcher) is an exhibition of contemporary work in the Kaleidoscope Gallery at Sevenoaks Library. Curated by Duncan Brannan, Visual Arts Officer with the Kent Arts Development Unit, it presents the work of nine artists. The gallery itself is a welcoming space, as might be expected in a library, the kind that can be revisited over the course of a show to re-look, review, remind, and ponder.Jonathan Bentall offers the closest to a traditional picture. A small collage, the look of ‘Know’ retains residual uncertainty. The figure’s stance anticipates uncertainty at odds with its title.

Sarah Hinds displays a photographic image, ‘U B Dead’ from a paused television programme. We look at an image of an eye, looking into a lens. Analogue and metaphor reflect each into the other.

Jim Lockey invites us to take a booklet containing ‘written descriptions of experiences with six (real but absent) artworks.’ An experiential conundrum? The descriptions are not the work, but Lockey’s work?

Chris Van Beck pulps instructional photography books to make paper on which are printed a photographic images from the original book. Book as raw material, old material as new idea.

Martin Lang’s photographs present and represent. All is not as it appears. He models what he terms dystopian cityscapes from found materials which his photographs blend by juxtaposition into the ‘natural world’.

In ‘Amazing Gaze’ Margherita Gramenga watches (videos) her young daughter dancing, angel wings silhouetted before an open window and blue morning sky. We watch and listen as Margherita looks and speaks lovingly; we are intimates; no voyeurs here. Love is not for the voyeur.

‘First Impressions’ – people on the street respond to questions from Margherita about herself; her non-English accent somehow validates the event,presenting her as stranger, in need of assistance. Her subjects’ efforts to please tentatively test the limits of response, creating an atmosphere of self-conscious performance and nervous giggling.

The horses in Chris Yates’ piece ‘Spectators’ appear self-conscious. Presented with film of themselves training on a lunge, their responses vary. Tail up, ears pricked, nostrils flared, a sense of skittishness. Do horses pass the mirror test, recognize an image as/of themselves? This is a film of closeness and distance – horse and trainer, artist and subject, each watching the other, all subject to the viewers gaze.

Jeannie Driver’s piece ‘Spike It’ consists of four video loops made in offices in which she placed a 6ft spike file. Office workers impaled (redundant?) paperwork. Do we see only the tip of the paper iceberg? How much goes elsewhere? Or is this ritual sacrifice? To impale is a violent form of filing, replete with potential metaphor, self-harm by proxy.

Threatening undertones continue in Jo David’s video, ‘Anomalous’ of a fox pacing back and forth in a lamplit street at night. The fox is aware that it is being watched and seems aware of its own impotence. The watcher’s eye spells threat, as does passing traffic, which compels temporary change in the animal’s priorities. Threat from traffic is implicit, that from the watcher is pointed with potential malice. The fox, with cautiously brave face, barks, hides, returns frustrated, unable to satisfy curiosity or banish fear.

Tucked into the gallery corner the surveillance camera records, unable to watch? Are we all foxes now?