Friday, September 11, 2009

Radical Nature

Radical Nature: Art and Architecture for a Changing Planet 1969 - 2009.
The Barbican Art Gallery brings together some of the key artists and architects from four decades in this exhibition to look at how they have responded to the increasingly poor state of the planet. Flying Gardens by Tomas Saraceno is a suspended structure of cells that plays host to Tillandsia plants which derive all of their sustenance from the air. For me it has really lace-like qualities that I would love to emulate.
R&Sie(n) are a group of architects who have presented a vision of a termite-shaped building - Symbiosishood - which has been computer modelled and is shown as visualisations and an SLS model. It is designed to be covered by an invasive plant that will colonise its surface and make it blend almost seamlessly into the landscape.

Mark Dion's
Wilderness Unit - Wolf', 2006 is part of his series of units which criticise the contemporary practice of turning nature into a commodity. Based on an updated version of the traditional travelling circus it also references museum displays.
Anya Gallaccio explores natural cycles in organic materials focusing on the irreversible processes of death and decay. Having sourced a Birch tree that was due to be felled Gallaccio had it cut into metre lengths, transported to the Gallery and reassembled with steel bolts and tension wires. Casting elusive shadows onto the gallery wall the slowly withering leaves are a reminder of the impermanence of life.

Upsett by Basketry Plus

Upsett is the title of an exhibition, by newly formed group Basketry Plus, in the Foyer of the Library at the Barbican.
Bloom by Stella Harding is, for me, the highlight of this small but stimulating exhibition with its wonderful sense of flowing movement.
Entwined 1 is also by Stella Harding

Lorraine Gilmore is showing a series of pieces, of growing complexity, using contemporary material to create beautiful linear forms. The piece shown left is called Restrained and has been well lit enhancing its three dimensional qualities.

Sherry Doyal looks to the natural materials in her surroundings to inform the shapes and textures of her sculptural pieces. Shown above is Dulwich 1.

Andrea Gregson - Garden Museum

Last Night For Ever is the title of the installation at the Garden Museum by Andrea Gregson. The title is taken from the final event at Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens (1661-1859) and it was research into the archives surrounding the gardens that was the inspiration for the piece.
Nearly 6 metres long, with viewing holes at eye-level, the mausoleum like structure fits in well with its surroundings in the church with its modern blond wooden insertions.
Hidden within the structure are layers of imagery from several centuries referencing the original Vauxhall Gardens and the buildings that currently stand on or near the site. These locations merge to form hybrid locations that are quite surreal blending 'ancient' grottoes with modern building rubble and formal gardens with wild overgrowth - a parallel world in miniature where things are not quite right.

MA Graduate Show - Farnham

made 09 - MA Graduate Show at UCA, Farnham

Gail Baxter - The identity specific lace 'stories' in Relative considers the complex narrative of interpersonal relationships within a family group. Detailed examination of one person's records can reveal otherwise hidden details of another person's existence or way of life and the installation offers altered perceptions of the overlapping existences of family members.

The detail (right) shows the way in which the 'stories' interact revealing unexpected hidden details and relationships.

Carol Quarini showcased her conceptual work with an installation titled 'Home Sweet Home'. Based on Freud's theory of the uncanny it looks at the familiar becoming strange through domestic textiles. Has the net curtain exploded into the room and caused havoc or is it innocently trying to find out what has happened?
Carol's work also included a modern twist on the classic lace doily but is this one throwing off it's oppressors?
Ros Perton works with wheel-thrown and altered clay forms to question accepted associations of value and beauty.
Shown as stacks, contrasting the rough of unglazed coarse clay with the smooth of porcelain. For me it is her chunky, rough textured pieces that really stand out. These black vessels with their ruptured sides are just so wonderfully tactile and yet carry deeper questions of how and why the ruptures occurred.
Tracy Nichols works with hand cut opaque glass, creating what I consider to be 'glass lace'.
Her current work is based on microscopic images of eroding bone fragments usually associated with pain and decay rather than beauty.
Displayed layer on layer the complex structures give great depth to this delicate 'fabric', drawing the viewer deeper inside.
Although I like to look through the layers of Tracy's work this piece challenged the usual concepts of delicacy and weight by using layers of glass lace to support a heavy, rusting, metal box.