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Sally Meakins.Fragile Deceit

Sally Meakins.Fragile Deceit

Strange goings-on at HAF

In the light of Surrealism #2  has already been flagged up in HOT. HOT’s Lauris Morgan-Griffiths went along to see for herself the Hastings take on surrealism, and how it relates to Inverse Reflections in the adjoining Gallery.

I have to admit that I am not a surrealist aficionado. However, I went with an open mind. Surrealism gives artists free rein to mine their imagination, their dreams and unconscious and this is curated intelligently by artist Jo Welsh. The results are unexpected and illogical juxtapositions that coalesce into a strange significance all their own. I admire the creatures and objects and juxtapositions that are born out of their imagination.

But I wouldn’t want to spend a night amongst them.

Installation In the Light of Surrealism#2

Installation In the Light of Surrealism#2

There is no theme to the exhibition except surrealism. Anything goes. Dependent on what you like or how you relate to the individual art works – installations, portraits, collages, still lives and paintings – there is tremendous scope for everyone. The standard of work together with the artists’ intellect, imagination and curiosity are a wonder to behold and an impressive exhibition to have in Hastings. Much to see, to look into, to wonder at.

In the paintings and installations there are strange creatures – some half animal, half human, dream-like sequences, crabs crawling and creeping , tender strands of human hair, eerie overcrowded rooms, some objects look abandoned, unsure of their place in the world, boxed toys, a soldier with a circuit board for a heart, musical instruments, birds gathering nightmare, enchanted scenes. Some are disturbing, magical, dream-like or plain confusing. I am concerned about the fate of the toys? Where are the crabs off to? Let your mind go with it. Make of it what you will.

Installation Inverse Reflection

Installation Inverse Reflection

The curator, artist Jo Welsh, has done a thought-provoking job in gathering together these ten artists – including three Royal Academicians (Brian Catling, Gus Cummins and Mick Rooney) – with other artists: Tony Penrose, Kathleen Fox, Jane Hoodless, Jo Redpath, Katherine Reekie, Tim Riddihough and Jacob Welsh, who all have strong links to Hastings.

In the adjoining room is another exhibition, Inverse Reflections, by Lorrain Mailer and Sally Meakins. This is a separate exhibition, but there is a loose, surreal connection to the other show – particularly Meakins’ work.

Lorrain Mailer inverse reflection

Lorrain Mailer inverse reflection

The information explains: “This exhibition is, in part, a result of the artists’ individual responses to a series of phone conversations with each other which took place over time.” This statement, however, sheds no light to me on the connection of the two artists’ work. My impression was that of reaching out, trying to grasp What? Now? My future?

Mailer uses intricate drawings and paintings of little stick people. My initial thought was that they are about oneself; the past and future in search of who you are. Apparently, they are about migration – and isn’t that what people leaving their past do, reaching out towards an unknown future in a strange, other environment? In the middle there are several blinds made out of two-way mirror film. The stick-like figures again feature, drawn onto the film. You can see yourself reflected back and see through to people beyond; all part of the same life.

© Sally-Meakins Offering

© Sally-Meakins Offering

Meakins’ work is also obscure. To me. There are Rachel Whiteread-type houses – ghostly, closed, hidden stories. What happened inside there? Hands holding waxed containers reaching out in supplication. Gloved hands tenderly hold a bowl prayer-like, they stand on a drawer which I resisted opening – left to imagine what might lurk hidden inside. Childlike ballet shoes, Fragile Deceit, are made out of lead, a toxic substance crashing into the innocence of childhood. One image haunted me: black, on black, on black with an image of an illuminated boat. A light shining out of the blackness. A burning funeral pyre out at sea?

Both are significant exhibitions that offer food for thought. Intriguing, confusing and provoking, drawn out of extraordinary artists’ imagination.

A final thought, if you can make neither head nor tail of it, or question the artists’ sanity. Salvador Dali is reputed to have said, “The only difference between me and a madman is that I’m not mad.”

In the light of Surrealism #2  and Inverse Reflections:
8 August – 3 September 2017
Hastings Arts Forum, 36 Marina, St Leonards on Sea, East Sussex, TN38 0BU. Telephone: 01424 201636.
Open Tuesday to Sunday 11am-6pm

Posted 14:39 Wednesday, Aug 16, 2017 In: Visual Arts

Also in: Visual Arts

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