Anyone who believes that art should be fun should visit the Impressions Gallery, fall down a rabbit hole, and join the Mad Hatter’s tea party created and hosted by Gosia Wlodarczak Sarnecka and Sandra Lee Murphy. This exhibition does not just consist of pictures on walls or objects on pedestals. It is a total environment in which paper chairs hang from the ceiling, images trail across the floor, cups are incapable of holding tea and narratives must be read from right to left.
The centrepiece is a work by Gosia. This is a patchwork of plastic panels suspended from the ceiling. Each panel is an individual composition, and the first impression is that many different styles are involved with only a general relationship between the panels. Careful reading, however, reveals that this is the doorway through which the viewer is invited to enter and to join the tea party. There is the hallway where one hangs one's hat and coat, there is a vase of flowers on the table and there are two figures already enjoying their cups of tea. On the right hand side there are three plain white panels which represent the printing legend. This adds a particularly quirky touch. It draws attention to the fact that this is printmaking, but since the panels are blank, it also raises questions about the magic of creating art from nowhere and about the pitfalls of trying to interpret it.
Another 'quirky' touch is that the plastic panels are joined by crochet using plastic thread. The piece is entitled Quilt – Transit Zone, and this draws attention to the fact that quilting, like crochet, is a traditional female activity. The actual images, however, are produced by various means including ink jet printing. By choosing this combination of techniques and materials Gosia refers to the transitional space occupied by all those living at the beginning of the twenty-first century, but particularly those of us who are women. Women are still engaged in activities such as crochet, quilting and giving tea parties as well as being part of a computerized world of ink jets and e-mail.
Sandra-Lee is also concerned with traditional female crafts, and with transitional states. She has made a set of four relief prints entitled Tapestry of the Day. These prints are of tea bags arranged in elegant rows reminiscent of tapestry. Several of Sandra-Lee's works have titles which refer to memory or to the passing of time. This is yet another way of engaging with the mysteries of different stages and levels of consciousness.
One of her works is a small plastic "cupboard" divided into shelves and spaces, and containing objects like wire cups. This is made from industrially produced material, but it refers back to the old-fashioned china cabinet.
There cannot be a tea party without chairs and a table, and here again there are unexpected combinations of materials. The table (by Gosia) is covered with another set of plastic panels crocheted together with nylon thread. Above the table is a lino-cut print (also by Gosia), in which a central panel appears to have been left blank. The two chairs (by Sandra-Lee) are made from wire mesh or from paper. The paper chair is entitled Shadow of the Day. It is 'sculptured' in white paper with an abstract design printed onto it in black. The print represents the shadow, but the insubstantiality of a paper chair raises questions about the nature of reality and unreality in relation to everyday objects.
curiouser & curiouser is about transitional and altered spaces, times and conditions. To emphasize this the far wall is taken up with a series of drawings of coffee cups by Gosia. This consists of nine panels, each one showing cups and saucers spinning, spiralling, growing, shrinking, floating and sinking. The total effect is quite hypnotic. On the side walls are more drawings of cups and saucers. This time the works are hung at different levels to place the viewer in the position of Alice as she grew large and then diminished in size.
This is a humorous and witty show. It explores serious philosophical
questions about the human experience of time and space, but it does so
in a most enjoyable way.
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