The Royal Standard: Space is not a Void

THINGS TO BE HELD THE NEW SEAA respected gallery amongst the artist community in Liverpool, I had high hopes for my first venture to an exhibition at The Royal Standard.

I am disappointed to admit that I was thoroughly underwhelmed by the offerings of Laura Aldridge, Lauren Printy Currie and Emily Musgrave in their collective exhibition Space is not a Void and would actually debate this choice of title.

Purporting to explore the ‘phenomenology of space’, I found the works within the exhibition largely devoid of this key theme. Despite the best efforts of curator Madeline Hall, I felt strangely unmoved by the work before me, and struggled to see its relevance in response to the exhibition’s title. The most striking thing about the exhibition was the abundance of white space in the gallery surrounding the artwork, which does more to encourage the viewer to contemplate this concept than the work itself.

Rather than ‘Space’, the work of these three artists focused more clearly on ideas of materiality, and each work mirrored its neighbour’s preoccupation with recycled materials. Using found objects, Musgrave and Aldrige have created sculptural assemblages which precipitate concerns of environmentalism and the poisoning of the world we inhabit. Musgrave’s Freestanding Composition 3 (2013), a perspex column housing a collection of waste materials, highlights how the purpose of these objects becomes meaningless as they hang, suspended inside a plastic coffin.

Similarly, Aldridge’s textile installation, How do you stop a bleeding finger (2012) comprising of a patchwork sheet, uses found objects to explore the same idea, and the static, draping fabric hangs lifeless in the gallery, illustrating the destruction of the natural world as we know it.

Emily Musgrave high resFrustratingly, although these works have the potential to convey an important message, the craftsmanship causes them to be forgotten, much like the issues they represent. For example, Printy Currie’s Lovely Profile (2013, Acrylic on plaster and angle hooks) feels almost inanely simplistic, and thrown into the exhibition to fill the space rather than communicate an idea. Likewise, the titles of each piece feel more creative than the pieces themselves, and so the purpose of the exhibition is void: space is cluttered with mismatching pieces of work trying to elaborate upon a theme, but very little is actually said.

In addition, most of the work feels contrived and lacking in purpose. Take, for example, Musgrave’s Metal Prop (2013) – a meaningless object created from an assortment of other, found objects. This strange, stringed instrument rests against the gallery wall close to the door, and recalls debris, perhaps blown in off the street.

I wonder, perhaps if the pieces on display had been presented under another auspice, or been paired with the works of other artists, the work of these three women might have demanded greater awe. As a curator, Hall fails to produce a concept of what ‘Space’ truly means in the context of this work.

As Space is not a Void comes to its inevitable end on 28 September, I feel obliged to bestow the news to art enthusiasts that this is an exhibition that could really be missed.

This review was written for

About teafortwotalk

Freelance writer @Pickwickmag @Corridor8 @Biennial / Editor @artinliverpool. Available for writing and copyediting.
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