Cadi Froehlich LG reviews a ‘powerful’ exhibition by the joint winners of the prestigious President’s Prize, awarded by Susan Haire PPLG at the 2019 Open.
The bold blocks of colour and the sunlight streaming into the gallery welcomed me into Subject to Change at the Cello Factory for the LG President’s prize show.
The three selected artists all made full use of the gallery height, and the considered, confident installations show similar focus to that I have noticed in other post-lockdown shows. It’s as if the enforced pause, the room and time for thought, and the reduction in distractions have distilled works in a new way.
Despite concerns and fears we all shared over the past 18 months, it looks like these artists have managed to keep moving forward, as the work has developed significantly.
Maybelle Peters presents a towering finger-knitted column which hangs from above, down onto selected vegetables partly visible through the chunky yarn. Following her digital work in The London Group open titled ‘Bionic Dread’, the work has brought these contrasts between line and behaviour into physical being.
The relationship between the thick purple form of the column, and the more delicate yarn it is made from, evokes tension. That it falls to shroud yams and other African-Caribbean produce is at once protective and smothering. This work pulled me in two directions at once, which is absolutely in keeping with Peter’s wider practice exploring identity and the African diaspora.
Linda Simon also presents a large scale hung work, consisting of plastic construction mesh in lemon yellow, and the bounce between this manufactured plastic and the more organic forms of Peter’s work combined with the colours brought them both more to life than ever.
The precise configuration of the towering plastic grid draws the eye upwards to flashes of cyanotype blue on the balcony above. The forms printed on protruding card cubes have been made using the yellow mesh, and again the blue with the yellow and purple is electrifying. The order and direct use of these forms and materials was a really nice mix of handmade vs industrial. The additional ideas of wildflowers, and arrangement of the cubes according to the opening notes of a song with the same name wasn’t clear to me on first viewing, and offers a glimpse into likely future work. Even without this knowledge, I found the colours and textures stood well together in their own right.
Dominating the rear part of the gallery is the large scale installation by Paul Bonimini. Recent works I have seen have also being constructed and large scale, and this feels like a really progressive use of material and space. Thoughtful gathering of construction debris, carefully cataloged, allows an aesthetic display suggesting a building, though one which is fragile, optimistic, but ultimately doomed. These items are past their best, but still striving for purpose. The elastic used to support/suspend the various elements is generous, but we know elastic can move, stretch and go slack. Filling the height of the gallery, this work was illuminated from behind with an abstract projection of images taken from the skips where the materials were found. I liked the abstracted nature, as it was a suggestion of the interlude the materials had taken, before being carefully arranged in a hopeful alternative here. It felt melancholy yet mature.
I am really looking forward to seeing how all of these ideas will move on, and am so impressed by the vision of Susan Haire in curating this group, and the time allowed for them to produce a pared back powerful show which feels like a bright spark of what is to come.
Subject to Change took place 20-27th September 2021 at The Cello Factory