Sunday, 10 February 2013

Laura White: We Can Have It All at Spacex, Exeter

Laura White’s We Can Have It All has been running for a couple of months at Spacex and is now entering its final fortnight (ending February 23).

The installation in the main gallery consists of an array of plasticised art works in the main gallery space and three photographic enlargements of trophies put together from mementos and ephemera in the second exhibition room.

White says that she worked for about six months on the assortment of objects on display in the main gallery and how they should be displayed at Spacex. The result is a visual collage (or is it bricolage?) made of art object pastiches. All the objects on display are familiar but are constructed, at least in part, in bright colours from a material closely resembling plasticine. Many are built around a ‘readymade’ tool or object from the home. The resulting work is then displayed on a plinth, elevating it to the heights of Art to be studied and critiqued. This is a clever piece of work which questions the way that we look at objects and the way that they are displayed. At the same time the installation is brightly coloured and playful, and resembles the corner of a crowded auction hall or a museum storage facility.

The second gallery space contains three large photographs. When she visited the gallery at the start of the exhibition Laura revealed her interest in ephemera and the mementos that we collect in the course of our lives. In this respect she is drawing upon material previously mined effectively by Peter Blake. However, rather than simply collecting and displaying this ephemera she has used them to build new Works of Art, and by photographing and enlarging them turns them into objects for which it is difficult for the viewer to estimate their size without examining them closely in detail. The photographs are not hung but are casually propped against the walls. Again, White challenges our assumptions about Art and the way it is displayed.

The exhibition is on for a further two weeks and is definitely worth a look. If you can’t get along to Spacex then the interactive exhibition tour is pretty good – However, it won't convey the issues of scale or of how each individual item is displayed in the way that the artist intended. There is no substitute for simply being there!

The exhibition guide has an excellent reading list for those who want to explore the themes of this work further.