It’s back to basics for the group of creatives commissioned for this online initiative from Thorp Stavri gallery hosted on World of Fad’s Instagram account. Invited participants are representative of artists with whom the curatorial platform has established relationships as well as newer individuals who were initially scheduled, of course, for more tactile exhibitions. The show’s title, Contact, holds within itself the tension of present circumstances-unable to interact with close physicality, we are left with the beguiling proximity of the virtual, a mimic of the immediate masking the remote-but it is what is available, and we must continue to communicate and relate.
What is keenly felt in the majority of these works produced while in lockdown is the return to pure, primal materials and concerns, an earthy reliance on (or digital recreation of) wood, cloth, yarn, cement, thread, wire, a direct reflection of a sudden stripped-down, spare existence, a celebration of modest but durable elements. An emphasis on folklore and myth, those sustaining and foundational tales that are the backbone of culture, are pushed to fore (the tight cosmos of symbols and patterns of Anna Perach’s My Braided Hero, a pair of gloves given extra contemporary currency as avatars of security and defense); Tess Williams’s rough, raw and ungilded industrial Sirens is an ascendant statement of the plain-spoken; Christopher Stead’s Jungle and Catriona Robertson’s Chute repurpose detritus into new empowered forms of reference, soups and stews of rubbish reconfigured; Anna Readings’s Augury, a cement and oyster shell rendering of a cormorant fanning its wings, harkens back to mythic fables of avian messengers, bearers of ominous, apprehensive news, oracles of doom;
Kieran Leach’s trippy Mean Pills foregrounds a foggy-brained Casper the Ghost against a hazy background of splotchy paint spray, mental eruptions of colourful frisson and unease; Veronika Neukirch’s Coral Connect 4 flailingly attempts to find a coherent pathway or connection; Andrea Wright’s Maquette for Future Sculptures 3,4,6 beckon towards the comfort of the analogue, the simplicity of the hand-crafted, not so much an escape into nostalgia but a confirmation of the strength of the rudimental; Katharina Fitz’s Memory Palace-Hollow, a series of empty, delicate latex vessels, echoes the present state of ethereality, ungrounded and unsupported, an abrupt loss of weighted ness; Jack Evans’s Nostalgia depicts a particular “recreational” tree found in pubs and parks in the East Midlands of his youth, now lost to time, reimagined digitally as a Viking-type warrior seemingly covered in (and withstanding) a cape of shit, an apt image for a Covid-infused population;
Rob Branigan’s Checkout heralds a sinking of commodified culture, a penetrated concrete interruption of the accelerated; Mike Ballard’s Letraset-style sheet of transfers (Coast to Coast) crashes in like an outmoded language, a series of manic arrows and scratch-outs creating a lexiconic cacophony of direction and movement, as if certainty and assumption-normality-have suffered breakdown. All the works throb with the unique frequency of viral-loaded times, anxious and unresolved. Contact can be found-indefinitely-on World of Fad’s Instagram feed