Review: Objects of Inspiration – Wysing Arts Centre

Showcasing the work produced during its artist residency programmes, the Wysing Arts Centre has opened a new exhibition. ‘Relatively Absolute' displays an eclectic range of new work and accompanying objects chosen by the artists as having been important to their creative process. In his statement, curator Gareth Bell-Jones shows a clear intent for visitors to view the exhibition in a holistic fashion, appreciating the interaction between objects of inspiration and the works they have informed, whilst also examining the dynamics within a group of artists sharing a creative space.

However, the gallery plan that was being handed out to visitors seemed to undermine this intent and I was not alone in my confusion. The experience envisioned by the curator would almost certainly have been better served by ignoring the plan. It would have been far more in-keeping with the ethos to have encouraged wandering around the exhibition as it interested one to do so, giving a chance to appreciate more intuitively the loose connections between the creations and objects, suggesting the deeply personal and nebulous psychological process that is an artist's inspiration. Found items, from a mummified dog to the wheels from inside fruit-machines, were juxtaposed; old works alongside new, film and music were integrated, and sculptures made of traditional materials were next to objects that barely looked like they were even part of the exhibition. Given that free drinks were being provided throughout the exhibition's preview, I was particularly confused by a glass of wine on Edwin Burdis' sculpture. I later learnt that it had, in fact, been placed there intentionally.

Some of the most interesting work was not on display in an immediately obvious way. The texts produced by resident writers, particularly the poems by Ed Atkins, were incredibly rich material. Nilsson Pflugfelder's mixed medium piece on themes of ruins and archaeology was also worth really taking time over. An incorporated textual element encouraged thoughts of ruins and fragmentation, reinforced by the decision to place the piece alongside a fragment of the collection of Palaeolithic artefacts from Cambridge University's own Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

A surprising number of artists were featured, all of which diversely different in approach as well as medium. Even if the curator's intent was somewhat muddied by the way the gallery plan was presented, the exhibition clearly displays Wysing to be a valuable creative environment.

Emily Weissang

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