Last weekend, I biked down Regent’s Canal and emerged on Mare Street to then disappear for two hours in the continually breeding galleries of Vyner Street. For Arts & Ecology, there were rich pickings at Wilkinson gallery where David Batchelor’s exhibition Unplugged (remix) was showing.
The ground floor space yielded a series of rather brutal totemic structures, collectively titled Parapillars, onto which were attached plastic findings like fly swatters, toilet brushes and combs from the pound shops of London's East End and Scotland. It was quite a startling sight though there was a system to it – the objects attached to each structure were selected according to colour and categorised further by object type. The work gave off a magnetic energy, exposing an artificially coloured rainbow of similarly worthless yet essential items.
For me it triggered a memory of a previous experience in Sri Lanka.
I spent a short period of time in the southern area of Kalutara six months after the Tsunami hit and like many others assisted with the clean up of the beaches. What seemed like an infinite amount of possessions washed up on the beach day after day; flip flops; toys; plant pots and among other things, thousands of toothbrushes. All plastic, all cheaply produced but at an extreme cost to the environment.
Batchelor’s pound shop pickings, almost all derived from a never ending production line in China. Dispersed across the world these goods arrive in our towns and cities and are sold at super low prices aimed at low income households. It would be interesting to see the real cost behind a baby blue ladies comb from China.
The show has now finished at Wilkinson but is accompanied by a catalogue published by Talbot Rice Gallery in Edinburgh where the work was first shown earlier this year.
See also Milton Keynes Gallery’s current exhibition; Pascale Marthine Tayou: Plastik Diagnostik. For his first solo exhibition in the UK Marthine Tayou presents a series of works at the gallery and off site installation, Plastic Bags at the MK Dons Football Stadium which, faithful to his practice draws on the detritus and throwaway ephemera discovered on the streets.