Monday, 6 April 2009
Paracetamol Soup, Manchester Central Library, running till May 7th
Leading a workshop where we looked at holidays as a way to explore how it feels to be in hospital made me realise how difficult it is getting the balance right; the balance between the visual and the words, between a good workshop for those involved and a good art piece for others, between finding a theme for the sessions that is accessible and also challenging. What arthur+martha does, achieves this. Overall this exhibition presents pieces of work where the subject matter, the words and the visual all tie together. Like the matchbox faces, where the words and pictures concertina out, we are encouraged to look beyond the surface. The depth of these pieces reminds us of the complexity of these people's lives. While the sticky labels on the medication makes the work appear less finished, this work takes you along a journey from their childhood to the specifics of their lives now. The work captures the huge array of experiences and emotions that these people have had and continue to have. The wavering handwriting on the sock labels touches on the aging process with a stark comparison between the old and young. But these lines also talk of the frustration of not being able to communicate their thoughts and of their determination to do so. Displayed in glass cabinets alludes and contrasts with images of menageries full of fragile relics to delicate to be touched, once again challenging our assumptions of the elderly. Like the title suggests, this work is a soup that mixes experiences and emotions with layers and contrasts. All in the right combinationm this work gives us a powerful taster about these artists lives that leaves us wanting more.