lots of animals! and lots of art!
🐘 🎨 🦒 🎨 🐒 🎨
On a non descript and non directional exploration solo around the heart of London, I stumbled into an anthropomorphic world. A gallery with a window lavishly decorated in surreal animals, textural and rich with layers and colour and childlike charm...
Im the David Gill Gallery situated in King Street of St James's London, the bold B's of Barnaby Bradford hit my vision.
Of course with lockdown in our grips, or rather it's grips on us, I was unable to worm my way through the maze of physical delights... but from a distance, I became wrapped up in a metaphorical narrative on the dominance of this ideology and debates our values in an increasingly polarised political landscape.
Let's backtrack a smidgen.
The world moves forward at a never-ending pace driven by the powerful desires of the individual feeding the engine of the ‘me first’ culture.
Me me me me selfie selfie selfie selfie
sex sex sex sex
text text text text
But it's all rather vapid, is it not? And haven't enough studies by now indicated how damaging social media and this Primadonna Princess Persona is for our mental and eventual physical wellbeing?... Uncertainty promotes fear. This in turn triggers an animalistic self-preservation instinct in us. Perhaps this is a never-ending struggle – a toxic combination.
Is this an age-old battle between the haves and the have-nots? In The History of the Peloponnesian War, Greek writer and historian Thucydides said: “the strong actually do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.”
Now, though this body of work by Bradford is four years old, the collection titled ME WANT NOW still aims to compel the viewer to question our relationships and the world around us.
Large scale energetic Word drawings, offer a departure from the meticulous planning, order and structure of Barford’s sculptural works. These Word Drawings embody the chaotic immediacy and almost forceful nature of the ‘me first’ mentality and act as the voice of the powerful, trapping us by offering things that ‘we’ want now, with no regard for the consequences.
The drawings appear deranged but also serene and beautiful and form claustrophobic ‘nets’ that envelop a series of life-size animal sculptures and Trophy Mirrors.
Repetition is carried through to these sculptures which are constructed from thousands of individual ceramic pieces featuring fragments of the Word Drawings.
‘More’, ‘Power’, ‘Change’, ‘Choice’,’ Hope’, ‘Glory’ – These are the things that have often driven mankind to achieve great things, words that are inherently positive, however once repeated incessantly, their meaning becomes warped. It is the egocentric pursuit of these bastions dominating the current climate which has driven this body of work.
Daily, we are inundated with written in the press, posted across social media and in speeches from our politicians, in volatile times words can be dangerous. And it is at the heart of the ME WANT NOW life-size ceramic sculptures, that we find an odd reflection of ourselves upon reading these words dat by day... churned out with different perspectives and perceptions as the clock hands roll on by...
...A literal queue of animals lining up patiently waiting. Seemingly powerful creatures from the 8ft Polar Bear to the Tiger, the Wolf, the Black Panther, the Brown Bear wait alongside the vulnerable; the Baby Elephant, the Rabbit, the Roe Deer and Foal.
The queue places them all side-by-side, powerless as they wait for the unknown, a visual allegory of human existence. The sense of disquiet hovers throughout reminding us of human queues – from ration queues to the dole queue to queues simply just to get in.
A series of Trophy Mirrors in a separate room, featuring the ceramic animal heads mounted on mirrored plaques may suggest the future of the waiting animals, offering a disturbing sense of doom. Barford once again employs the mirror to both physically and metaphorically present us with an uncomfortable glimpse of ourselves reflected in the work.
Individually the words I Bradford has selected are positive as are the pieces in isolation, it is in their relationship to each other and ultimately the installation as a whole that drives the narrative of the exhibition.
Fear promotes the ‘me first’ culture, the disregard of consequences and the collateral damage that ensues seems to be eroding our sense of collective humanity.”
Barford goes onto ask: ”In the face of our insatiable need for more, and the resulting constant sense of discontent, is this what we really want?”