Four months ago I, along with many others, were eagerly awaiting In The Days of The Comet, the aptly titled British Art Show 7 exhibition, to arrive at Nottingham Contemporary. We were not disappointed, the once-every-five-year event took up its initial position at Contemporary, along with many additional shows and discussions running concurrently in spaces around the city.
So with three days left before it was to be moved on to the 2011 venues of London, Glasgow and Plymouth. I decided to take one last peek at the main body of works at Contemporary.
It is always interesting to see things on a different day from a second or third view perspective, it amazes me how the differences and subtleties that are not apparent first time round become more obvious with a second look.
I’m only going to concentrate on some of the works on view, not because I didn’t look further but that they offered slightly differently to me when viewed again.
One was the painterly touch of George Shaw’s three images of semi-urban landscapes, where he grew up and had returned to paint them. I was struck by the grey, rain sodden sky in one with puddles on the ground and the sheen of the paint reflecting water in the clouds so they themselves looked like puddles.
And Karla Black’s There Can Be No Arguments made with polythene, plaster powder, powder paint. And the thread holding, entwining and suspending had pink powder dust running up the thread at the point of contact.
Karla Black’s There Can Be No Arguments
image courtesy : Scotland + Venice
Mark Avery’s Untitled (The Island with the Hunter and Miss Miss). This time taking in the text on the wall…I tried to find a copy of it on the internet for later reading but so far have drawn a blank. As part of the work it is probably best to view the whole in this context. But as words are also deeply connected to the imagery of imagination, they are more easily transported. So it would be good to read again.
Charles Avery Untitled (Miss Miss finally gives in by the tree where Aeaen sought to bamboozle the One-Armed Snake…)
image courtesy BBC Nottingham BAS7 in pictures
Wolfgang Tillman’s photo-media story Truth Study Center, too, with its matched and mismatched text and images read differently, telling another story …which I found even more absorbing ,the more I didn’t read it from a linear perspective. Not that you were encouraged to as its dialogue with the viewer was positioned so you had to crick your neck or circle the tables to view from the *right* angle.
Wolfgang Tillmans Truth Study Center
But the one I found most absorbing from a second view was the film Game Keepers Without Game by Emily Wardill……. A journey of sound, image and dialogue seeming to run logically and concurrently. And then, it throws you, as the sound could be placed with a different set of images; ones you have just seen, or are about to hear within the dialogue. Seventy two minutes long and with allocated screening times I think is worth a special visit, to absorb in toto – not least because of length. There is a *story* to follow but also because of the subtle fragmentation it too reads differently when seen as a whole.
In the context of the exhibition though, the spacial fragments coming together in this film, sits well with the whole exhibition; the near miss of comets, orbits, and new beginnings, fragments of time and revisited pasts.
As does Tillman’s Study, previously mentioned, and Karla Black’s Brain; a fragmented wall sculpture. I guess Karla Black is one of the artists I was personally drawn to as I found myself looking at her work well before I knew who the artist was. With Shaw’s paintings I was drawn to in a way I found simultaneously wanting to leave; like on a visit to my own past through memories of bleaker landscapes. I also found his technique, reflected the absolute detail of the scene but still showed its delicate transience in the nature of time. I was too, reminded on a personal level with the suburban houses and stillness of trees and streets, of areas my past had physically inhabited. With skies reflecting the general air of sameness but gradual decay, even the blue sky was subdued when reflected against this.
Charles Avery’s piece I have never seen close up before. Though familiar with his drawings which are at once both telling a story of fantasy landscape not entirely disconnected from reality – a recognisable *dis-utopia*. But with this work I was almost surprised to find me likening it to Louise Bourgeois Rooms and Cages, the distressed metal boxes and enclosures. Only with Avery, the people were recognisably present rather than Louise’s absentees and figures of representation.
Louise Bourgeois : Cell (above) and Room 9
I’ve not included the many other artists work in this final look at BAS7 as these particular ones, the second time around, took me on a personal journey of thought.
Maybe Emilly Wardill stood out the most for me; one aspect could have been the absorbing effect on the senses, of film and sound in an enclosed space. But more, I think, to do with the coherent connected-disconnectedness on subsequent viewing (having built on my initial impression) which this particular medium showed so well.
BAS7 is now on its way to London, opening February14th and then up to Glasgow in May and arriving Plymouth in September. Definitely, most definitely worth a visit or two!