Object (from medieval Latin objectum): a thing presented to the mind
Objective: belonging to immediate experience of actual things; being exterior to the mind: substantive, self-existent
Does an object exist solely in the viewer’s cognisance of it or does it have a reality in and of itself? Does it come laden with socio-cultural meanings? Does an object have agency - can it act on a viewer to create desire, wonder, unease? Is it at all possible to truly experience something objectively, or is every experience subjective, mediated through the senses and the mind? The curators of Object/ive have presented a diverse range of ‘things’ to the mind; the viewer in turn is left to decode their substance, myths, and stories.
The smooth stone works of John Edgar invite touch and the hand of the maker is evidenced in their masterful finish and the symmetry of their forms. As well as exploring the material properties of stone, Edgar’s works are also imbued with centuries-old histories of stone-sculpting. The stone and glass crosses embedded in the works simultaneously embed cultural narratives which will be read differently by each viewer.
Ben Pearce’s bronze works also carry with them a history of making that stretches back into time. He subverts this traditon however, by producing spidery twigs and hollowed walnut shell forms that contradict the heft of the metal. Pearce accords small and delicate pieces of garden detritus the status of art object, calling into questions the viewer’s preconceptions of value, aesthetics, and longevity.
The patinated bronze stems of Ann Robinson’s Small Twisted Flax Pods also see a natural, ephemeral form recast (literally) in a material that brings with it narratives of the monumental. The striated, soft metal provides a tactile foil for the hard, smooth glass surfaces of the pods themselves. The movement their form suggests is reinforced by the internal play of light, a property of the medium that is seen in its fullest expression in Robinson’s crystal Shell Pod. In this work the exterior and interior structure are on display at the same time and the textured surfaces regulate the flow of light.
This technique is also utilised by Galia Amsel in her large sweeps of glass. Amsel uses the contrast of highly polished, clear surfaces which admit light and textured, frosted planes which trap it to illumiinate her sculptures from within. Graduated colours further disrupt the way each piece interacts with its surroundings and with the viewer’s gaze.
Natalie Guy’s amorphous blown glass forms seem to have a life of their own. They suggest organic growths yet elude definition and the soft glow of the translucent glass hints at internal warmth that does not exist. Caroline Earley’s ceramic works also possess an aura of self-containment, of being things-in-themselves. With no discernible purpose, works such as Place Setting and Centrepiece nevertheless construct a domestic context – albeit one that is strangely unfamiliar.
Wendy Fairclough’s installations push the notion of uncanny domesticity to its extreme. Waiting For Rain constructs a scene of utilitarian practicality where none exists. The precious fragility of the blown glass is completely at odds with the form of the cheap, mass-produced plastic buckets and the elevation of these household forms to art objects ensures that they will never experience the rain for which they are waiting.