Thursday, 28 April 2011

Who Cares about Mary Kelly's family allowance

Whitworth Art Gallery : 'Who Cares' ,'The Mary kelly: Projects 1973-2000' and 'Family allowance' exhibitions.

20/04/2011 I had a day trip around the corner to the Whitworth,i think this springs exhibition selections have been my favourite so far that I have seen there, as the 'Mary Kelly' exhibition Incorporated themes of memory and personal history versus national history, using clean and direct installations and repetition that created these long sequences of text and repeated visuals, as though portrayed as symbols, on inventive media. One of the pieces was a series of slate slabs that had been scratched into, as though a diary , the words on these slabs seemed quite disjointed and fragmented, as though the artist understood this completely at the time of writing, containing numbers and odd word combinations, which proved very subjective from a spectators angle. The exhibition continued like this, another series seemed to be about the artist's child and the stages of his development, also recorded using hand prints and brown ugly stains on pure white with typed text. The exhibition used text and image with the idea of recorded history cleverly, as the visual style was interesting, even though each series followed similar layouts.
I remember one particular series, perhaps the slate work, discussing in a abstract and highly personal way, the nature of getting older as a woman which i thought as white, aggressive scratches on a slate surface, was communicated in a clever and unexpected way and it really inspired me into thinking broader for my next project in terms of how installation can using light and text to invite the viewer in, as i found the larger installations, in particular a hut-like structure, to be very present in the space, also Mary Kelly uses language in such a way that reading does not get tiresome.

Information off the Whitworth Gallery website:

As much about everyday experiences as big historic events Kelly’s art makes the personal political.

From Post-Partum Document (1973-9), the series about motherhood that provoked tabloid outrage in 1976 because of its presentation of stained nappies, to more recent installations about feminism like Love Songs (2005-7), the exhibition traces the artist’s enduring commitment to women’s narratives. The celebratory glow of Multi-Story House (2007) invites visitors to step inside and read the intergenerational dialogue patterning its walls.

The impact of conflict and war also runs through the exhibition. The polished shields and trophies of Gloria Patri (1992), quoting soldiers in Iraq, are hung high like an heraldic display. The Ballad of Kastriot Rexhepi (2001) about a child lost and found during the Kosovo war, makes a continuous sweep around the gallery walls. Kelly’s most recent commission unifies her long-term questions about how history shapes us; the bomb shelter-like Habitus (2010) is ‘corrugated’ with the memories of people born around the Second World War, legible only by looking into its mirrored floor. Mary Kelly’s work reflects back to us how we remember and talk about our experiences, from world wars to daily struggles.

Who Cares (pictured at the top of the page)

Exhibition tag line: 'If you only see the illness, you miss the person,' I was drawn to this exhibition because of the very human subject matter and interested in how successfully the contemporary artists, Lucy Burscough and Kevin Dalton Johnson had managed to portray a contemporary outlook on inner struggles in comparison to Lucian Freud and etc, appearing in the same exhibition. I connected more with the work of these contemporary artists, in particular the 2 part portrait by Lucy Burscough in which section on one side of the portrait had been censored out by red squares but appeared in a fragmented shape on the other half of the canvas, the piece was quite eye-catching and i felt it had something new and different to say. Alternatively, Kevin Dalton Johnson's sculpture had a definite, over- powering presence in the room. the exhibition booklet quotes the artist:

' making large impressive sculptured busts that act as a visual diary of events that reflect my identity and journey as an African diasporic man living in the UK.'

Personally i am not usually a huge fan of figurative sculpture but the awkward proportions and deep eyes of these works really drew me in.

Family Allowance:

This exhibit on was probably the closest to my own practise,as it used collage, dark humoured paintings and Richard Hamilton style juxtapositions but largely the exhibition consisted of how artists throughout the ages have portrayed the changing nature of the British family. My two favourite works were a long portrait picturing a very male, odd looking version of snow white being seductively undressed by his/her mother. This portrait shocked me because it was created quite a while ago but was seriously quite taboo. I enjoy work that simply suggests and leave you to decide the rest and this work definitely did that. Paula Rego is also quite interesting in her large headed women and dark dreary settings, i enjoy her style of illustration and story telling, i hope to do more of this in my illustration to convey meaning.

See the link for more info!

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