(plywood, timber) 5m x 4m x 3m
Out of the Wrong Comes the Sweetness
Sharing isn't easy – so considering division as creating a whole instead of 'parts' seems a bit of a strange concept. But, one that seems to be resolved in this exhibition by division of structure and space, or at least tricking you into thinking that is the case. This two person show presents effacing works that ground themselves within the gallery like a temporary – we know it's not a good idea – new-town; there is definitely a guilty pleasure in the works presented by Stephen Murray and Alex Gross.
Indulgence in process through approach to subject matter is something that at once contrasts and compliments both works. The hands-on results achieved in both sculptures appear as totems to personal, or 'other'psyches. For Murray and Gross this pairing, which is deceivingly diverse and wide-ranging, asks that the distance between the two works be filled by the viewer, resulting in a curious blend of fictions.
Stephen Murray's, 'Jack's Black Strap Treacle Heals and Feeds the Poor', 2007, the wooden grotto-like structure in the middle of the gallery, simultaneously confronts and welcomes the viewer. Its decadent inscriptions and engraved characters allude to various flamboyant 'Jacks': Jack the Treacle Eater (who has his own folly in Yeovil, Summerset) peers suspiciously across one of the sculpture's triangular surfaces.
Much like these illusive characters and the dubious myths surrounding them, Murray's sculpture seeds the potential for narrative through text and image; referencing the untruths generated by the architectural presence of the folly (historically) – a totem to an individual (usually its owner) – and in this case a totem to the artist. Murray dose not cast a critical eye on the symbol of the folly but explores the potential to perpetuate myths through their illusive social autonomy.
Alex Gross', 'Wrong Growth', 2007, is an exercise in material and the founding principles of clay based sculpture. Diverging from his regular approach, this work – a semi-architectural form – is fully covered in self-made putty; a brownie, orangey mix intended to represent thick mud. Gross explores the tactile qualities of the materialand revisits the childhood pleasures experienced while walking in deep mud.
The sculpture's underside bears deep impressions left by a misplaced foot or leg that has sunk into it. The reverse bearing the inverse: covered in corresponding protrusions from the former. Bizarrely tipped upside down and propped up precariously, the work resembles an absurd geological slice of earth that has captured the impression of someone – possibly the artist's – misadventure in the substance.
Through use of colour Gross' sculpture toys with perceptions of weight, with its orange tinge the work could quite easily be metal. On closer inspection, its tactile, shiny surface appears to be almost fluid. This, along with the works inversion affirms the overwhelmingly disorientating nature of the work.
For both artists structure – with a reference to architecture – is used to divide their works: front and back, top and bottom. And in both sculptures these conventions are manipulated, adding another layer to their possible interpretations; expanding the potential for fictitious narratives furthers the work but also warily charges the relationship between the two sculptures in the space.