Arts & Elbows

A catalogue of commentary on events in Thanet and occassionally the rest of the world.

Friday, October 06, 2006

A nice B&B by the seaside

It's that time of year again when Britain's finest but most unlikely artistic duo share another show. There's Andy Baldwin who looks half Grizzly Adams and half Bigfoot, and Brian Bushell who's all Harpo Marx who link together the former's sculpture and the latter's painting into the most unlikely side by side show on earth.


Brian Bushell's paintings remain the same as they've always been - disguising themselves as over simplistic strokes on first view, almost childish in their naivity. On further peering they're as accurate as X-rays, as concise as Japanese calligraphy despite their being disguised as near meaningless dark vague forms.


Andy Bushell's sculpture is similarly perverse and deliberately so. Large hulks of machinery invented to meet a requirement of smaller scale. In an age of microchips designed to manage everything there's a liberating joy in having a half-ton rusting machine six feet tall designed to do nothing but go "tapperty-tap-tap" every ten minutes.


This heady combination results in a show of very enigmatic work, most viewers adore it but aren't sure just why that might be and the perversity behind that is part of it's appeal. Neither would dare to patronise the viewer with an explanation of what they do nor why they do it, and therein lies the appeal. While most contemporary artists are desperate to convey their deep and meaningful intent in the most earnest way Bushell and Baldwin aren't really bothered by any of that. They actually trust the viewer to make up their own mind.

Above is a fine example, it's a Water Megaphone designed to amplify the sound of water. You crank the handle, put your head in the megaphone end and "et voila!" the sound of water is amplified. There's no need to amplify the sound of water though, and least of all for a half ton machine with hand cranked pump to do that, but in the finest tradition of long forgotten Victorian science that's exactly what it does. Isambard K. Brunel would have adored it.

Similarly in paint here's a vaguely circular scrawl, it seems too hurried and simple to portray anything of worth. A closer view reveals the form of a dead cat so microscopically accurate as to defy more modern forms of recording. It's painting disguised as lazy daub, a subtle ploy to allow fans of painting and painters to appear to accept the lazy painting of the post-modernists.

Above is "One Ton Bell", a frankly ludicrous invention lost in the classified advertisements of nineteenth century editions of the "London Gazette". You can wheel it around and ring it, like a portable belfry. Like almost every other modern piece of sculptural art it will having you scratching your head trying to work out just what use this could be to man or beast, bar the woman who bought it. The female buyer lives in Venice and was looking for a way to call her husband home when he's mucking about about on the water in his boat. So unlike every other piece of contemporary sculpture, it has a function most appreciated by it's new owner.


Of course a newly opened show isn't all about the art contained therein. It gives the gallery owner the opportunity to impress everyone with his Bertie Wooster impersonations.

It also gives the gallery staff the chance to run around making sure everyone has a full glass.
As well as giving the local intelligentsia the opportunity to discuss rapid drinking techniques for consuming as much free wine as possible while doing a cracking impersonation of Janis Joplin.
The sole additional joy was meeting someone who played a Vogon in the Hitch-hikers movie, luckily most left before he started reciting poetry.

"Sound & Silence" by Andrew Baldwin and Brian Bushell runs at Gallery IOTA until 29th October. Click on the IOTA link on the left hand side for details.

22 Comments:

Anonymous Adrian said...

These guys just get better. Best show all year. I remember Brian was fretting a bit six months ago but he pulled a few cats out of the bag as it were.

8:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great show, many thanks IOTA and the artists.

8:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Absolutely amazing - such a variety of sounds from those creations - and the 'silences' just as exciting as the noises

9:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fantastic Sculptures & Paintings - don't stop creating great works

9:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Turly an inspiration - Brian & Andy together

9:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the green fish ..... and the red one. Those big machines are fun to make noise with

9:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Inspirational

9:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wonderful
I like to see the beaudy of darkness and hear the lightness of sound.

9:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love it
Feels brilliant in here

9:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

GREAT STUFF!!!!!!!

Nearly jumped out of my skin
Thanks!

9:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you
Thought provoking and beautiful sounds and dynamic images

9:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stumbled across this exhibition - atmospheric, beautifully contrasting - Thanks

9:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Proper painting and dangily things!

9:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FANTASTIC S T U F F !
Convent bells + artistic brilliance

10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Top noisy stuff HANGOVER CURE!!
Very stimulating and exciting - fabulous use of space

10:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great stuff as always

10:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very interesting concept of media and design. love the huge middle sculpture would make a great cat scarer for the garden!!! he!he!

10:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The element of surprise caused by the photo-cell and movement of the sculpture was eerie, when looking at the portrayls of death

9:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think its quite good and extraordinary and interesting the bell looks really old and the warter thing is very inventive and interesting i enjoy going to see the brilliant painting

9:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The water megaphone is very effective at making you want to wee. They should have one in all hospitals for people finding it hard to give urine samples.
Not bad as art either!

9:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What an unusual exhibition. Very entertaining and resouceful - Wonderful - AND I DIDN'T HAVE TO GO TO LONDON!

9:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the sound of silence makes great music, I am very pleased I made it - a great duo

2:39 PM  

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