Sunday, 7 November 2010

An original combination of forensic science and textiles!

Not the easiest Gallery to access, it is not often that I have traveled to the PM Gallery. The last time was early February when I was impressed considerably by an exhibition of Extreme Embroidery. This time, I was again intrigued by a textile offering. ‘Revealing Evidence’, showcased a collaboration of photography by Sarah Pickering and textile installations by Shelly Goldsmith. Both artists presented work inspired by the methods and thought processes of forensic scientists and sought to fill their work with eerie imagined scenarios and hidden experiences. The large photographs were rather unsettling and disturbing. Featuring ravaging house fires with burning dolls houses and bearing titles such as ‘Glue Sniffing Kids’ I found them unnecessarily unpleasant and far too real. However, I felt the textile garments were less obvious and more thought provoking. Goldsmith explored several techniques- printing with colour, searing with a laser and ornamenting garments with imagined stories to convey how psychological states and intense emotions can remain as memories, embedded within the clothes we wear. I believe the altered garments really did echo the presence of a life and a story, all be it a rather grim one. This is one of her primary intentions- to provoke us into constructing scenarios and making assumptions so this interactive element certainly keeps you hooked. Her printed dresses, such as ‘Next to her Sister’, with their fuschia splodges remind me of Alexander Mc Queen designs but on closer inspection the miniature crime scene tapes around them construct a narrative of underlying horror. Torture and death feature less subtly on some of the other garments, embellished with words of deathly descriptions, e.g. ‘my veins run with a sticky black substance’. Other garments feature delicately laser drawings and it is their horrendous titles instead (such as ‘After the Flood it Got Very Hot’) which suggest the morbid circumstances. I really liked the alternative approach of the gallery, using the PM Houses’ antique furniture as a set stage to drape the garments and create a real context for the suggested horror. The exhibition was so original and it was refreshing to be so involved with a constructed narrative as opposed to feeling like a mere viewer.

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