Curiosity – Art and the Pleasures of Knowing, Newlyn Gallery
A wonderful day to travel down to the most south westerly region of England, the sun shining and the sea bright blue-green behind the herras fencing, which prevents the public from accessing the coast path, devastated by the recent storm damage. But such is life and St Michaels Mount still rises from the sea in the distance, and lines of people perch on what is left of the sea wall, looking out to see. As always.
When I arrived at the gallery a coachfull of pensioners did so at the same time. I hung around to watch them and observe how they responded. I’m not sure they were deeply engaged but they listened politely while Simon, the gallery steward, explained the show to them.
I recall another occasion I was in this upstairs room, about 15 years ago, as an artist in residence with others – Amanda Lorens, a writer from Knee High theatre, a trapeze artist and others. Since then the gallery has been redesigned, opening the view out with a cafe. Around the same time I exhibited with PALP in the old telephone exchange, a derelict site we brought to life. It is now the Exchange Gallery – the other half of Newlyn Gallery.
I can’t help thinking that this blog is beginning to act like my own digital textual cabinet of curiosities. Increasingly my posts begin in the moment, reflect back to the past, and return to the now and future. They are not only about what I see and where I see it, but how I, and how we, experience the world, bouncing around through time and space, place and memory.
The exhibition explores those themes too – so actually sitting here in the cafe feels the correct place to start. We cannot extrapolate the past from the present. Hermeneutics rules these thought waves.
The people on the coach tours have a very different experience to me. They are out on a jolly, they are together as a social group, they chatter, they eat cake, maybe they discuss previous trips together, prior experiences that the artworks have stirred in their databanks. Or maybe not. It doesn’t matter. They will now enter my memorybank, next time I arrive here I will remember overhearing the lady in red telling her friends that another mutual friend has died. Art, life and death, all that life is made of.
And then there is the art. Wonderful collections of personal obsessions and fascinations. A row of square photos of cute animals by Nina Katchadouran, which Simon points out includes a very ugly dog; close up images of patterns and lines found in the world by Richard Wentworth; photos taken with a special camera that was adjusted to deal with photographing black faces in apartheid South Africa (Oliver Chanarin); a sheep dog by Thomas Grunfeld – a taxidermy hybrid constructed from a dog and a sheep. That takes me back to my MA days when I explored cloning (I am writing about that too at present, that will appear in the next week or two). Fantastical glass models of sea creatures, by Rudolph and Leopold Blaschka made in the 19th century (I saw some others recently in Woollaton Hall – they make sense to me in relation to Luke Jerram’s glass microbiology works).
And so off to The Exchange………photo soon when wifi