Polished linoleum floor patterned with checkers (2016)
Olivia Rowland at Fragments, 2016.
FRAGMENTS: A SOLO EXHIBITION BY OLIVIA ROWLAND
Olivia Rowland, who freshly graduated from The Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford, has always had a unique elegance and flare for her practice, and it really shone through at her solo exhibition Fragments (2016). Which was held at BottleCraft, an in depended craft bear and real ale bottle shop and tasting room in Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire, was a real treat for anyone in the local area. It was a welcome edition to such an already homely venue, whether a veteran art-lover or merely just popping in for a pint, Rowland’s work sparked a wild curiosity and enticingly cohesive conversations about the work and the artist.
The series of five etchings from the original installation Rupture, could be seen hung on the wall over the tables and just below the Christmas lights hung aloft. The pieces themselves are based on a set of fictional monologues, the prints abstract a personal history based in Stoke-on-Trent via fluid mark-making and continuous line. And it is these fictional monologues, along with the marks that sparked the imaginations of the viewers.
26th August 2016
DON'T LOOK NOW (1973)
Director: Niclas Roeg
Writers: Allan Scott, Christ Bryant
Producer: Peter Katz
The enemy of this film is time. Not only how long the audience has to wait, with little tension from one act to the next, but the passage of time outside of the film. It simple hasn’t aged well. This modern classic has not been completely eroded by time however and is purely saved by how is the film deals with grief and guilt of the loss of a child the affects it has on the parents. With the use of innovative editing style and it’s use of recurring themes and motifs. By using flashbacks, flash-forwards, and associate editing of imagery, that has been intercut and merger with other scenes to alter the audience perception of memories, time, and location.
Overall I have to say it just wasn’t very thrilling and suffers from pacing issues, but worth a watch all the same, if just for the innovative use of editing, cinematography and directing.
22nd August 2016
SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT (1984)
Director: Charles E. Seller Jr.
Writter: Michal Hickey
Producer: Ira R. Barmak
Silent Night, Deadly Night, is not your typical American slasher film. By this I do not mean it is partially gory, because it is not, and it does not mean it challenges the slasher genre, because it does not. However, what it does do is really make one feel to the protagonist and later in the film the antagonist, I found myself wanting to give Billy, played by Robert Brain Wilson, a hug and tell him “it will all be okay”. It disturbed me. It disturbed me, not because it is set at Christmas, nor because Billy was dressed as Santa, killing left, right, and centre, because the characters have been “naughty”. No. It disturbed me, because you could see how tortured he was, how scared, how fragile. I knew this film would be predictable, before watching it, as many slashers are. But, I did not expect to feel solemn, or unnerved. I watched it for a bit of fun, but what I got was a bitter reality of life and of Christmas for many people.
11th December 2015
MATTHEW DARBYSHIRE’S AN EXHIBITION FOR MODERN LIVING
When I first saw this exhibition represented on Manchester Art Gallery’s website, I was uninterested. It was a dull representation of the show and it was only by chance I ended up going to the show. However, I was pleasantly surprised upon entering the gallery. One is met by towering sculptural work and challenging concepts (such as Resource Room, 2011).
The title of the show derived from the work An Exhibition for Modern Living, which Darbyshire created for the British Art Show 7: In the Days of the Comet in 2011, which in turn inspired by the momentous exhibition of the same name that took place at the Detroit Institute of Arts in 1949.
The original 1949 exhibition curated by leading figure of post-war American design, Alexander Girard. The exhibition contained site-specific custom room installations. Girard pursued to integrate the finest modern design could offer for this now renowned exhibition and was an effort to define modernism for a broad audience and showed original and great design that will live on; and it has. However, in the 2015 show, we see similar designs and it makes one question; is it easier to value the past or did designers reach a height of greatness and creativity they cannot top?
At Manchester Art Gallery. Darbyshire opened a contemporary equal that is rather less utopian than the 1949 show. The exhibition in almost reproduces the composition of the original, installing a series of ten of his ‘environments’ in the gallery in a grid-like fashion evocative of some of the room sets and Hall of Objects from the 1949 show. However, Darbyshire’s An Exhibition for Modern Living is a more oppressive atmosphere and is crammed with objects characteristic of contemporary home-ware stores, such as IKEA and Debenhams from vulgar, flocked-covered Buddhas to union-jack cushions and rip-offs of iconic design pieces such as Arne Jacobsen’s Egg Chair.
At the core of Darbyshire’s practice is the pursuit for validity. In out progressively globalised and consumerist world we are vended a designer existence, which we all invigorated to appose to. It is easy to become seduced by varieties of design icon furniture and home-ware that you can now find in any high-street along with the shallow slogans and spin-infused language spat by marketers and politicians alike. There is a thrust concerning packaging everything – from the way we design our own homes to the way our involvement in art, music, and literature, and society.
Darbyshire has an anthropological method to researching his work, deriving on the ordinary to departure very defined, described environments and sculpture that travels beyond utter satire, but encourage us to demand the political and economic agendas that criticise our taste and significance assumptions today. He shows us that as a culture we are increasingly aware that we out consumers, but it does not stop us consuming.
8th December 2015