|Laura Ford - Beast & Espalier Girl - seen here|
The Glynn Vivian Gallery in Swansea is currently showing Beast a work which has been purchased for the permanent collection from sculptor, Laura Ford. The piece is on show in the foyer along with a brand new work called Mummers (2011) and Espalier Girl (2006) until 4 September
Beast was shown as part of the Venice Biennale in 2005 and again in 2006 at Glynn Vivian Gallery as part of the Contemporary Sculpture series, it has been a very popular work with audiences which has led the gallery to include it in the permanent collection.
In recent years Ford has used textiles to make strange and uncanny figures, often life size, they have a familiar tactile quality whilst also carrying a sense of impending menace. They have the unsettling qualities of '...a bad dream or a spooky story...' and invite the viewer to concoct imaginary narratives. Beast sits bulkily on a too-small stool, he is made of sack cloth, undeniably human but with suggestions of animal features - a tail, a possible beak. It feels like he may be incarcerated...a prison, a military establishment, a secure hospital? He asks us questions about the projections we use to unburden our own sense of psychological discomfort.
Mummers is another extraordinary and truly 'uncanny' work, life size figures of boys engaged in some kind of school boy game suggest at first a playground scenario - it becomes clear however that one of the characters is lying prostrate on the ground surrounded by his peers - one of whom is holding an iron rod. All the figures wear a shaggy costume of fabric strips reminiscent of a 'Mummers' play, a traditional folk performance usually enacted ritually each year which acts out a story of the death of a mythical king. The figures have a extraordinary sense of suspended life, it is a tableaux that is frozen at a moment of horrible realisation and touches on issues about the moral boundaries of children which are exceptionally disturbing.
Upstairs in the main gallery space is an exhibition of three international film works which examine themes of love in particular cultural contexts. I Know Something About Love part II features work by Yang Fudong (China), Shirin Neshat (Iran) and Christodoulos Panayiotou (Cyprus). The themes of the show seem to mark something of a refreshing change of focus and curation - an investigation of this most unstable and powerful of states and the cultural restraints that define its unfolding.