Something Borrowed

7 January 26 February 2005

Something Borrowed

Daniel Allen
Robert Dawson
Natasha Kerr
Jo Lawrence
Cleo Mussi

The title of this exhibition is in itself a line lent, snipped from the timeworn bridal prescription that begins by begging 'Something old'. The saying now seems likely to outlast the very institution that it was created to safeguard, but its echoes of traditions and superstitions tightly held, grace the assembled works with a charm-like significance. Jo Lawrence's marionettes are brought to life by the borrowed. Assembling lanky human forms from cutlery, brooms and other domestic tools, she studs them with nuts and bolts, but it is their human faces - the wistful, faraway gazes of forgotten matinee idols - that truly animate them. A thing borrowed comes with an alien history. Like Jo Lawrence, Natasha Kerr borrows photographs, snaps that hint at many possible tales. Setting them at the centre of textile collages, she quite literally fabricates a moment in time, glossing it with snatches of handwritten text. To borrow is to remove an item from its original context, and in Cleo Mussi's figures and objects, the borrowed unite to create fresh composites: teacup handles become delicate ears, fragments of tableware cluster in bright, mosaic surfaces. The imagery that new member Daniel Allen appends to his ceramic characters is also borrowed, yet it alludes to inner truths - the red nose and sad clown's smile on the baggy, pale man, for instance, describe a lonely autobiography. A thing borrowed is necessarily to be returned, and Robert Dawson enacts both deeds in his complex tile pieces. Using optical illusions, he draws the viewer's eye from the particular back out into the whole, an effect as dizzying as the wobbly screens used to signal flashbacks on bygone telly. Elsewhere, tiles appear to fly off the wall, breaking free from their grid only to reveal another laying beneath it - a vivid depiction of the many layers of ownership ruffled by this quintet of makers.

Hephzibah Anderson 2005

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