Published: MANCHESTER CONFIDENTIAL, 8th December 2008
"From Space’ shop and Laura White at Castlefield Gallery: Thalia Allington-Wood becomes the princess of single evening art-shopping and Gallery-going"
It’s bloody cold outside and the air is sharp as I walk past Salford station in search of ‘From Space’. The self proclaimed ‘new art and fashion shop’ I have been sent to assess. The Christmas lights and wafts of festive sausages I left behind in Deansgate place further bricks upon my shoulders. Bricks entitled ‘Christmas is looming’ and ‘It really is time to start Christmas shopping’. Maybe, I think, just maybe this shop will be my tinsel covered savior.
Tucked away, ‘From Space’ is an endearingly small but effectively filled shop. The showcase for resident Islington Mill artists, along with other artistic pieces from further afield. This is a place to come for unique, handmade, and sometimes rather pointless items to fill a home, (or the underneath of a Christmas tree). Most at nice and un-daunting prices to boot.
An eclectic array of art lines the walls, to suit many a taste. Andrew Brooks is of particular note. Artist of the forthcoming 'Reality Hack: Hidden Manchester' at Urbis, Brooks’ photographs are surreal and rather beautiful (see review this week). Extremely sharp portrayals of cityscapes, woodlands, derelict buildings and ships at sea, that have been layered and reworked digitally till the colours and light hold an ethereal and mystical quality. They have an unexpectedly euphoric effect upon the viewer.
Also worth a mention is Liz Scrine’s absolutely huge candleholder, the ceramic pipes reminiscent of medieval, Gormanghastesque, scenes, flickering corridors and looming shadows.
‘From Space’ is almost a bohemian lifestyle store. Not only do they wish to sell you adornments for your walls, but to dress you in artistic clothes, supply your bookshelves with artistic books, fill your living room with artistic music, and provide artistic postcards for you to inform your friends of just how artistic you are.
However, it does so in a friendly and laidback manner, without too much self-artistic awareness, which is refreshing. ‘From Space’ is full of gift potential and worth a visit.
Having by now finished my complimentary artistic beer, I head back into the cold night, one art print in bag, for a well wrapped stroll towards another art related drink. This time at the Castlefied gallery, and the preview of Laura White’s ‘If I had a monkey I wouldn’t need a TV’. I can feel my very existence turning into oil paint and gouache.
Now I like Castlefield gallery, it has enough glass windows and white walls to swell my artistic pride sufficiently, and Laura White’s show is terrific. Using the gallery as a studio, the works were made on site and as such the relation between artwork and space is articulated eloquently.
Describing her own work as ‘imagery mess’, White’s art is a modern sensory explosion. Plastic animals, magazine cutouts and household goods that appear to have stepped out of the £1 shop are amalgamated into abstract and unexpected sculptures. Sponges, clothes pegs, feather dusters and suitcases are all present.
Images and objects are removed from their expected location and associations. Advertisements are shredded and mixed with clay to form a molding material; images are projected on to a pile of blowup balls and billboard posters. An Umbrella is filled with photographed animals. A huge media made stalactite hangs from the ceiling.
Laura White’s work is fun. It recalls Bahktin’s carnivalesque: enjoyment and festivity suspending and manipulating the official into freedom. The normal functions objects hold are disregarded, White makes you look at daily commodities from a different perspective.
Sipping some white wine, I catch my reflection in the window and am horrified to find that my art saturated evening has turned me into a Picasso. Wonky eyes not being the look of the season I head home, to do some decidedly non-artistic shopping at Lidl on the way.