Published on October 28, 2013 | by Edwige Dubois

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Threads art exhibit at the Rag Factory

 

On a quiet street off Brick Lane, fine art students from Wimbledon College of Art have been exhibiting their work inspired by the area’s heart and history.

The courtyard of the Rag Factory tells a story about the open-mindedness of the venue — a voice singing opera rings out over benches, bicycles, buckets and plants.

On Wednesday, the last day of the exhibition, all the students and their tutors met at the gallery to reflect on their project.

The 40 international students displayed a mix of paintings, sculptures, audio and video inside a 2-floor space.

Audience

The group debated how the artworks inhabited the space and discussed how the audience engaged with it.

Three televisions and a few cassette players, all operating at the same time, were scattered around the venue.

Senior lecturer at the college, Geraint Evans, questioned the sound art’s position in the room asking how to embrace this audio clash.

While discussing the cassette piece he suggested the artist should rethink the tool, saying: “It takes a bit of dedication and audiences are impatient these days.”

Control

Edwina Fitzpatrick, the course director, reminded students to be wary of the control a video could have over the audience: “You don’t want your audience to feel trapped”.

The discussion was a gathering of perceptions and ideas and the group would move their chairs to surround one piece after another.

Student, Drew Wallis encompassed the challenge of not enclosing the viewer’s free rein by showing a captivating and timeless video of himself lying in the rain.

Lee Coyne’s piece was a collage of religious symbols made out of digital prints and inspired by Brick Lane’s street art and cultural diversity.

Multi-colour

The group discussed the conflict between the two imposing artworks near the entrance. Whilst looking at the first artwork – the 20,000 paper clip chandelier – I realised I was leaning on the second, a broken wall covered by growing vegetation.

The multi-colour paper clip waterfall was the most approachable piece at the exhibition. It invited the viewer to  touch it and walk through it.

In contrast with the two impressive pieces of art, four beautiful but tiny pieces were leaning on a shelf. Edwina saw these small paintings as “intensely private” and expressed her feeling of “peeping at something”.

The whole reflective experience revealed the importance of taking the time to approach a piece and giving appreciation to the different interpretations emanating from a work.

Long may the Rag Factory continue to share the culture and vibrancies of Brick Lane.

 

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