"I may be considered a little biased in what follows in that I’ve admired Paul’s work since we both contributed to the Democracy show at the Quay in 2015. However, I’m against all forms of creative expression to do with the environment, I find songs, poems and visual artwork with a ‘Save the Planet Theme’ immensely yawnable. Given Paul’s recent concerns with regard to rubbish I therefore approached this particular exhibition preparing to be underwhelmed.
I have to report that, two hours and a couple of glasses later, I made my way home with a head full of ideas and arguments triggered by what I had seen. This came as an enormous surprise because this was a different and more provocative challenge to me personally than the usual “the planet’s going to die, we killed it, there’s not much we can do except be glum” stuff that gets thrust at us Most of the Time.
This series, if that’s what they are, kicks off in my small brain a wholly different way of thinking about our current plight. What follows is a brief and tentative description of these aggravations. I must state that I’m neither a practitioner nor an art critic but a punter making a few honest stabs in the dark in the hope that some readers will go along and find their own aggravations.
Compression and Confinement.
These are objects framed and, as with pictures placed under glass. This has a number of effects:
● The things become or appear squashed with a consequent suggestion of damage or impairment; ● This human act of compression suggests suffocation resulting in death ● These things have hard and insurmountable boundaries that aren’t of their own making; ● This demarcation makes what’s within them into art.
So, there may be analogy going on between this compressed detritus that’s clogging up the planet and the damaged environment. As well as demarcation, the acts of confinement and impairment suggest incarceration and physical retribution for past sins. One of the ideas that justify putting villains behind bars is that it prevents them from committing further crimes.
The objects on display include Lego figures, rabbit dung, baby clothes, used tea bags - some with and some without their labels, breakfast cereal and box cutter blades. Obviously, none of these are particularly profound and perhaps that’s the point, or one of them at least. It’s the ordinary junk that’s the problem both in its making and its disposal. The only material on display that doesn’t ‘fit’ into this is the rabbit dung which does at least have some potential as fertiliser and is produced by entirely ‘natural’ (loaded term) means.
All of these things, as noted above, are not conventionally placed and presented in this manner, mainly because they have three dimensions rather than two, this is made more disconcerting by the fact that most of them are pushed out of shape and/or juxtaposed with quite dissonant things.
Probably because I’m attracted to this kind of awkward distortion one of my favourites is the One with the Baby Clothes. These are spread out in what appears to be a haphazard fashion with shortish and shiny metallic strips placed equally randomly on top. I like this because it jars my brain to the point where I can’t make sense of what’s going on and instead get to be a bit obsessed with its inherent awkwardness.
The other display that has a similar though less intense effect is the One with the Shreddies which also includes some string and some quite thin rope that you can only see if you look between gaps. Texturally these are all fairly similar but the visual effect is stunning in that it should be drab and monotonous but instead brings the viewer into the frame, as all decent art tries to do.
There’s much more going in that this brief precis can describe, I’d just urge people to go and have a look for themselves."