Friday 03 February 2006
Welcome to the Jungle features new work by Chris Clarke and Graeme Stonehouse, whose artistic practice is linked by a sense of anxiety, abandonment, humour, and an interest in the banality of everyday urban experience.
On entering the gallery the viewer is immediately struck by the presence of Stonehouse‘s Air Dancer – one of those garishly coloured, fan powered wind socks that writhe around in the wind outside used car dealers and student bars. These objects are of course made for use outdoors, to attract attention where there would otherwise be none. Stonehouse negates the object’s function by placing it in the gallery and forcing it to bend almost double, bumping its head on the ceiling repeatedly, resulting in its expression of cheeriness taking on a sinister quality. The piece dwarfs the viewer; its size, expression and jerky movement creating a slightly unsettling atmosphere which is at odds with the legend borne vertically in giant letters on this pink and green monster – ‘Welcome’.
Stonehouse has also installed a video monitor showing two pigeons on a balcony, locked in a loop of beak-to-beak ‘foreplay’. The heart shaped space between their breasts and beaks pulsates as the birds move within the short looped sequence. With the aid of headphones we hear a synchronised heartbeat and a narrator begins a monologue that seems to ramble discursively but gradually reveals itself to be a catalogue of things lost. As the narration draws to a close the pigeons are freed from the loop, copulate furiously, and exit stage left.
Chris Clarke will be showing two new sculptural works constructed largely from domestic materials and found objects which he describes as “reflecting a discord between a desire for truth and the reality of existence”.
For the exhibition Clarke has constructed a work inspired by an encounter with a supermarket basil plant in his kitchen. With its black gloss finish You Look, Like I Feel captures the plant in a state of neglect, approaching death but not without the possibility of survival. The plant emerges from a piece of chipboard on the floor and increased in size is reminiscent of stinging nettles on a waste ground.
Accompanying this is I Wish I Believed in Heaven, which consists of a found stick the end of which is carefully painted in Humbrol paint to resemble a magic wand and is left propped against the gallery wall.