Art of glass – Spectral Re-Fraction

An out of the blue invitation to an art gallery from Keivan who I met on my MBA course and is the most highly educated person I know. A former engineer, IT consultant and management consultant, he is working towards his fifth masters degree and fourth career – in sculpture.

The venue was Kensington and Chelsea College and when performance manager, fine art, Matthew Kolakowski introduced the exhibition, he said that he felt that the purpose of art was to challenge – and if we felt challenged by a particular piece, we should ask the artist about their inspiration and motivation. To my mind, art appreciation is a combination of the artist’s self-expression and the viewer’s reaction, which is intensely subjective. Like music, art means different things to different people. It moves and inspires each of us in different ways. My companion observed that he was looking to be delighted and enthralled rather than challenged – and he had a particular space in mind to fill. Already we had identified three expectations of the artist: to produce something challenging, moving/inspiring and potentially furnishing.  

Keivan’s colourful installation ‘Trinity’ reminded me a little of a Meccano construction and the pattern of the different elements reflected his engineering and mathematics background, although it was inspired by the tripartite philosophy of Vedic culture.

 

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There was a lot of variety.

This gargoyle – part of a series – is called ‘Fucking Chicken’, a title that some may find challenging. 

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Only a couple of days ago, a software supplier reading my Twitter posts objected to my lighthearted reference to a TV weather forecaster’s inadvertant faux pas. There are a lot of shocking things on the internet and on television. In fact, anyone who watches the news who claims to be shocked by ‘bad language’ is surely posturing. And I believe in calling a Fucking Chicken a Fucking Chicken. But unlike their title, these sculptures are attractive. My photo doesn’t do justice to their clever design – when you look at them from different angles, you see a different set of animal faces.

I found some of the installations challenging – such as this one, made of pills, but I was not inclined to explore its motivation

 

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– and others beautiful. This was created by Isabelle Ashe-Taylor.

 

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I was particularly drawn to ‘Spectral Re-Fraction’, the artist’s torso cast in shards of broken glass –

 

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 Under the bright studio lighting, it looked delicate, pretty and ethereal. Modelled on the body, it conveyed some elements of fashion design or jewellery. The artist, Dorothea Magonet, was standing beside her work, so I decided to take up Matthew’s challenge and ask her what inspired her to create this piece.

“Women view their bodies in a fragmented way,” she said. “We look critically at ourselves as a collection of flawed elements.” But when she cast parts of herself and covered the casting in shards of glass, she realised she could appreciate the shape of a hip or an upper arm and see the beauty of a curve without a subjective or judgmental perspective. 

Speaking to the artist did indeed make me think about her work differently. Dorothea had covered fragments of herself in shattered glass to convey how women commonly see ourselves in broken images. Yet the result is pleasing. Spectral Re-Fraction met our expectations: the concept is challenging; the result is moving and inspiring – an interesting perspective with infinite creative potential; and the sculpture itself is enthralling – and certainly decorative. But it is also fragile. Balanced on its wires, it trembled as we walked away.

 

 

 

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2 Responses to Art of glass – Spectral Re-Fraction

  1. Jerry Gentry says:

    I like your perspective as you explored the exhibition and how you blended it with other people’s points of view. The pictures are a great underscore for how we are all different and react differently to art and music. It reminds me that we all link to our senses in our own unique ways.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Thank you so much for your sensitive comments, Jerry. I was also struck by how personal many of the pieces were – how creativity really means putting something of yourself out there for people to react to.

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