Francis Hair Fashions Gallery
87 Nightingale Lane Clapham South London SW12 8NX
The Uncanny World Of Interiors
Dates: 27th September - 12th October 2008
Francis Hair Fashions Gallery presents Matthew Meadows’ and Charlotte Squire’s first joint show. Both work with outmoded materials of interior décor: Meadows collages found wallpapers that hover on the brink of aesthetic pleasure, whilst Squire assembles mysterious collections of abandoned lamps and ‘occasional’ tables. This is appropriation territory, so nothing particularly subversive, but here serving to remind us that the domestic intimacy of that temporary place we call home is assumed, a cuckoo’s nest of objects, feelings, memories, often other people’s - simultaneously heimlich and unheimlich, as we learn from Freud.
Meadows has produced three collaged wallpapers from mass-produced, indifferently-designed rolls. As with Squire’s arrangements, repetition is essential, repeated motifs setting up a particular kind of looking; the glance – superficial, unsteady and fleeting. Accordingly. the glance tends to be thought a minor sort of looking; lacking focus and attentiveness - and as such, unable to extract meaning. Discussing 18th Century interior designer Robert Adams, Peter De Bolla (2003) suggests his decorative schemes promote the glance (not the penetrative gaze) for their “sensitivity to the eye, to its needs, desire”. It is to this (uncritical) distance, this desire that Meadows plays. Patterns repeat, your eyes may be dancing, but once you’ve got the formation there are no surprises. Meadows’ counter-intuitive arrangements of motif, palate and texture confound this promised continuity, producing a discomforting double-take.
His sources are eclectic. Endless Columns comes from Brancusi’s eponymous sculpture - the overall effect is what Joyce Grenfell (as Miss Arty) in Good Taste and Common Sense (1948) would excitedly call ‘modernistic’. The jostling, wobbling forms in Flagons recall the curvaceous pot shapes of Grayson Perry’s vases and an early Patrick Caulfield, ‘Pottery’. Hard ceramic references disappear though with the touch- feely surfaces of assorted embossed papers. In Meadows’ third piece, the rococo-esque Blazon, bosomy heraldic shield designs carry ornamental devices reminiscent of reproductive organs, playing cards..
Meanwhile, Squire presents possible lives for her dispossessed objects. All her assemblages constitute a quite particular collection although none of the components are collectibles as such – in fact it is central to the work that they aren’t. Mostly they exist in the realm of the outdated commonplace which perversely makes them all the more curious – and recalls Baudrillard’s (1968) still compelling analysis of collecting, wherein: “the pursuit of possession finds fulfilment and the everyday prose of objects is transformed into poetry, into a triumphant unconscious discourse”. Squire’s practice both points to and exemplifies this.
For Wood Play a hand-painted family of 20’s paper lampshades from Norway sit atop a bunch of car-boot sale bases. Cluttering a three-legged double-topped hall table of grey wood effect formica, the lamps emit a comforting homecoming light, while cables writhe underneath in a disquieting tangle. Baudrillard contemplates antique and other marginal objects as having an internal history “which is quite antithetical to the nature of functional organisation…but one which creates an internal and individual mythology.” Lampshade String gathers together glowing cream and beige cones, white domes and pink lacy skirt-shaped shades to form trailing columns from ceiling to floor to land on a geometric shape of wood pattern lino. Fake wood, wood effects and veneers feature heavily in her selections, the living form mimicked and reproduced in furniture until it is a facsimile of itself. In Turned Tables, the objects finally liberated from their use become a quasi constructivist sculpture of imitation walnut, mahogany and teak; an arte povera for consumer culture.
With many thanks to Jess Baines