'Lost for Words' Cafe Morte, Falmouth Project Space,Jan 6-10th 2016
It's quite unusual to find an exhibition with a theme of death, grief, loss etc. The show was very diverse, some work only slightly engaging with the theme and other art that was personal and moving.
It's great that Falmouth art college after a gap of many years now again has a space where art exhibitions can be placed.
There were many aspects of its presentation that might be improved in future. More publicity would help and having a longer show, and more posters, especially when entering the art college site. I went back in through the new graphics entrance and at first thought the small related graphics display which was very low key was the show, only finding the actual exhibition by further exploration as it was not sign posted.
Also the numbers by works were very tiny. These then took me to a numbered list and then a catalogue arranged with the artists names in alphabetical order. There were only copies to borrow but a website for further information, although no online device to use there. Coping with a numbered list and an alphabetically ordered catalogue took some patience and dedication.
If information had been on wall labels negotiating the exhibition's multifaceted artworks would have been easier.
There were four young women sitting in the corner on an arrangement of upholstered seats, all working on lap tops. One of these greeted me and later when I asked to see Belinda Whiting's book, showed me that it and other items were in that corner. The women then moved up to make room for me to sit, but it felt as if this was their corner and I was intruding.
I doubt many visitors got themselves into the corner, where there was also a related library of books to see and an unopened package of a cake and some tea things. I am sure there was a good intention to make a sociable space for refreshments and browsing, maybe conversation, but in the hour I was there no one had used the corner for this.
I suggest two invigilators would be adequate and that they could helpfully pay some attention to the viewers. It seemed as if these four were simply using that room to catch up on work as a handy corner and questions were an interruption to what they were busy with.
When I asked what language Janet McEwan was speaking on her video 'Riveresco' they thought it was being played backwards and had no interest in what was said, so that although one woman said wasn't it a marvellous video, I felt they were probably just liking it as a trendily super eight film, hand developed to be very scratched and old looking, not that they were not interested in any meaning. I was referred to the catalogue, in which Janet had made no mention of the work but had given a general paragraph about her practice.
Janet's voice through the headphones was very beautiful to hear, gentle and musical, alongside images of countryside and a grave, but I really wanted more information and a translation.
The tent with objects in the centre of the room, made by Bram Arnold and entitled 'Resting Place', unfortunately had a commentary on a device whose battery had run down. Before it ran out I heard an amusing snippet about a child calling a car a 'flat car' when it was a fiat. I missed the human ashes, reading about them later.
Nicola Bealing contributed a large painting , 'An elegy on the Melancholy Accident at Porthleven' relating to a disaster at sea which was striking but I felt would have been better placed at one of the two ends of the room to allow a long view.
Another striking thing was a video, by Tanith Gould, a play on 'nature Morte' with still life and very un dead nude young woman taking up a pose in a Renaissance sort of composition. I suppose it was light relief.
About half the exhibits, of which there were about 30, were very obscure to me or very dull.
A lot of bits of dust even if they were collected at a doctor's surgery by Jess Russell and placed on scientific slides in a grid said nothing much to me.
The show was of interest, but I was disappointed. This was partly because of wondering why my own contributions had not been selected from the open submission. Some list of the rejected works would have been interesting. It seemed that whoever selected had wanted a wide selection of media and an email had informed me that they had a lot submitted.
This knowledge of course made me more critical of the choices made.
The most moving item for me was the small book that Belinda Whiting had made to commemorate the short life of her daughter Sophie, who died during a heart operation at age three. The story was simply told, showing Sophie enjoying her life, and made me cry. It wasn't done in any tear jerking way, it was unsentimental and even cheerful in its way, but in its clarity and honesty and expression of personal experience it really touched me.
The idea of the show was a brave one and apparently connected to a research group at the college and there had been some discussions and other held during the show. Lucy Willow and Mercedes Kemp I think organised it.
I await hopefully a lot more art exhibitions at the college, maybe with comment books so that some feedback is sought.
I welcome comments to add to this short review.