Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Beneath the Petticoats... Ghosts Get Horny Too

I've just been marvelling at Nina Mankin's new stop gap animation. Two short films are showing in the Comfortably Strange exhibition at View, in our video room. The story is told below, in Nina's words. Hopefully you'll be enticed to come and see her films, which compliment her amazing sculptures and fit perfectly into the exhibition theme. For those who can't attend the exhibition, I hope to be showing the films on the website in the future.

Beneath The Petticoats... Ghosts Get Horny Too

The animation is based on the supression of women's emotion and feeling in the Edwardian and Victorian times, where a woman's dignity was all she had. Lustful thoughts are to be kept hidden behind closed doors...

"Petticoats, Petticoats, Petticoats,
Ruffles and ties, ruffles and ties,
Petticoats, Petticoats, Petticoats,
Starched white blouses
Stockings and thighs"

Eliza and Gertrude are ghosts, revisiting their past. They were not beautiful and did not marry, and they died old spinsters. The wooden doll posters on the ground symbolize a part of the self, and the stiff rigidness they had to embody. They are having a dream, a fantasy, where they are free and not bound to man's ideas of what they should be. Hands come out with a feather to tickle their breasts, strange heads and eyes come up from the floorboards to reach under their skirts... The face of the wooden doll has to hide behind the other pictures, she cannot witness such thoughts of lust and nudity.

"Too much fabric m'lady, too much fabric"

The hands and heads retrieve back into the walls and floor, it takes too much time and hassle to undo all the endless buttons and layers of clothing. The ladies swing again as before as though nothing had happened, the clock ticks and the dream was all just a tease.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Comfortably Strange - exhibition review

‘Comfortably Strange’ promises to be one of View’s most innovative exhibitions to date. The styles are quite diverse but there is a commonality in the feelings that are induced through a journey of discovery. The show features some very collectable art from established artists, some new to View and some returning with fresh work.

Beth Carter is well known at View for her mythological sculptures but this time focuses on her drawing and painting to explore the shows theme. Caroline Watson, another Bristol based artist, has also been creating work especially for the show, using traditional puppetry and children’s stories in her paintings and 3D work. Nina Mankin adds some lyrical imagery to her predominantly doll themed painting and installations. John Simpson’s drawings are beautifully crafted and yet the subjects are bound to ask some challenging questions of the viewer. Alex Korzer-Robinson creates his art from old encyclopaedias that result in a very different form of book art. Arthur Lanyon’s abstract oil paintings perfectly fit the Comfortably Strange theme as we are presented with partially familiar shapes, changing as we lengthen our gaze.

The initial raw impact of all the show’s work is maybe one of playfulness, shock or humour. With further interrogation this is followed by deeper suspicion, perhaps sinister, sadness, or joy. The emotional transition through continual exploration of each piece is quite magical. All is not what it seems, and your first impressions will rarely be your last.

Comfortably Strange runs to April 11th. Images of a selection of the work on show can be viewed here.