Monday, 3 September 2012

On the Edge of the World

We said goodbye to our summer exhibition at Oriel Myrddin Gallery today, On the Edge of the World has been a delight to live with for the eight weeks it has been with us. The work was curated from the British Council Collection and was originally shown at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh in 2010 as part of a bi-centenary programme of events to celebrate the achievements and lasting legacy of Charles Darwin.

The exhibition featured work from: boredomresearch, Christine Borland, Dalziel+Scullion, Anya Gallaccio, Tania Kovats, Rob Kesseler, Michael Landy,  Heather & Ivan Morison, Simon Starling, Alison Turnbull, Marc Quinn.

"The 14 contemporary artists selected for this exhibition assume the role of modern-day explorers.  Through their work, they make connections between us, our environment and nature.  For many of them, travel is an important part of their practice; they seek to examine and interpret the complex and changing natural world around us.  Here we see the enduring legacy of Darwin and his commitment to bringing new interpretations, rare discoveries and insights to a wider world carried beyond a scientific community into the imaginations of artists today."

My personal favourite from the show was Tania Kovats' two hundred and eight two, a slice of oak tree  onto which Kovats has traced each individual ring in india ink to make a delicate, poignant record of the  tree's life span.

It was also a great pleasure to host 8 of Michael Landy's etchings from his 2003 Nourishment series. Each etching depicts a common weed that might grow between paving slabs - 'street flowers' as Landy describes them. These were the works that emerged after Landy's famous work Break-down which saw him destroy all of his posessions in 2001.

One of the favourite pieces in the show for our visitors was boredomresearch's Oriental Bug Garden (2004), a digital piece that uses gaming and artificial life modelling technology to create a screen based work that has a self-generating pattern of triggers and collisions which, in turn create an incidental soundtrack. Meditative and tranquil, the sound sets the tone for the whole exhibition in many ways.

The centre piece of the show was arguably Anya Gallaccio's installation, Preserve Beauty (2003). 800 brilliant red Gerbera flowers were installed behind a sheet of glass and left to disintegrate over the duration of the exhibition. The process of decay was quite present in the gallery as the piece went through various stages - sometimes the smell was quite interesting!

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