Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool, UK, 2008
At the centre of the exhibition are two large kite sculptures, entitled 'Beautiful, Wise and Loving' and 'The Opposite of All Those Things'. The artists’ starting point for these works was a visit to Quartzite, Arizona, USA. This small town in the desert holds the largest rock-hound swap-meet shows in America. The artists travelled to the desert in search of mineral samples of uncanny natural geometry, with forms that looked like they had been machined to perfection. The rocks they found were used to inform the geometric structure of these sculptures, which the artists produced in collaboration with Kite Related Design, a company specialising in the manufacture of three dimensional fabric structures and kites. Whilst the sculptures retain the essence of the forms of the rocks, they are physically opposite: large, lightweight structures produced from man-made materials, and designed to fly. 'The Opposite of All Those Things', the larger of the two, is a construction of clashing cubic elements, measuring over five metres long and made from a dense black Ripstop fabric. It was flown on Fleetwood beach before the exhibition opened and will be flown again upon the close of the exhibition. In flight it becomes an ominous, heavy-looking black rock, a meteorite held floating in the sky moments before impact; in the gallery it retains its ominous presence, but is static, captured and held floating in space.
Also presented is a timber replica of one of the four parts of 'The Opposite of All Those Things'. Beautifully made from planed ash, this is a secondary sculptural translation of the cubic forms of the kite. Forms that were painstakingly designed to achieve flight have been incarcerated into wood.
A guardian performs a set of tasks during each day. At the centre of these tasks is to maintain a fire in the stove installed in the gallery space, which is used to heat water in a kettle to make tea for any visitor who wishes to accept the guardian’s hospitality. The guardian is also there to invite and encourage visitors to browse the selection of apocalyptic and post apocalyptic novels contained within the most comprehensive catastrophe reference library in the UK. Housed on shelves built into two large purpose built plinths come workbenches; the library contains novels dealing with the effects of man made disasters, and the problems and ways of surviving natural disasters. Upon one plinth sit two large mud towers which function quite directly as a model for post apocalyptical survival, whilst on the other is a roughly slug shaped mud form, which invites elliptical readings and which the guardian sprays with a mist of water every hour and gently strokes whilst whispering ‘I am so sorry’.
In the corner of one room are bundles of Blackpool’s Gazette newspaper from the day the exhibition opened. They act as seats for visitors to rest upon whilst enjoying their tea or reading books from the library. And inside the paper are two announcements within the public notice section of the classifieds, which provides a key to the exhibition: ‘He was beautiful wise and loving’. ‘She was the opposite of all those things’.
Stuart Tulloch, Curator, Grundy Art Gallery