Sunday, 18 October 2009

Beating the Bounds

Des Hughes - Waiting for the Miracle - seen here
Whilst in Tate Britain, I had a look at a small show next door to the Turner Prize galleries called Beating the Bounds. Part of the Art Now programme of exhibitions at the Tate, the title refers to an ancient British custom in which a community walks the parish boundaries of their village stopping at certain significant objects (such as a tree or a wall) to beat the ground with a willow branch (or sometimes a small boy!).

It is a quiet show - nothing particularly brash or jarring. It investigates specific artists' responses to the materiality as well as the meaning of their work and our reactions as we encounter them in the space; the '...meeting of matter with matter'.
The work includes painting from Frank Aurbach, Simon Ling, Glenn Brown and Helene Appel; sculpture from Eduardo Paolozzi, Richard Deacon, Brian Griffiths and Des Hughes; film from Emily Wardill.

I liked the idea of the show and the reference to the old custom - although I am not convinced by the concept, the original custom was about re-affirming territory - recreating the reality of place and claiming ownership. This show is more about democratising the tight divisions between disciplines; breaking down of the barriers between craft, process, materiality and art.

Richard Deacon's ceramic sculpture North - Fruit in conversation with Brian Griffiths' monumental smiling Stone Face (Bear) and Glenn Brown's Teen Age Riot, a desk encrusted with paint residue like a giant paint palette. Eduardo Paolozzi's Kardinal Syn sculpture of a gagged/bound head reflecting Frank Aurbach's impasto Small Head of E.O.W.

I particularly liked Des Hughes Waiting for the Miracle; objects resembling a knight's chain mail boots, gloves and helmet cast from old woolen clothing in resin and iron. There was something vulnerable and dislocated about these items shown on separate plinths; something painfully absurd.

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