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Hamish Young: Excavation

Collective Gallery, Until 20th November

Hamish Young, the newest member of Collective’s Satellite programme, certainly brings an innovative approach to the table. If his being the recipient of three prestigious awards and fellowships since his graduation last year is anything to go by, his emergent show at Collective will not be the last we hear from him.

Excavation, like much of Young’s work, centres on the manipulation of a singular material, in this instance marble. His objective is to bring the physical experience of engaging with the substance in the quarry of Carrara, Tuscany to the gallery. The show comprises of four works: two machine-cut Statuario marble pieces, a sculptural carving of a hand, and a series of three screen prints. Each work is intended to provoke a true understanding of the material’s history and the engagement of both the quarry workers and the artist.

This was a show of varying success. The intellect behind the work held such promise that some works fell short. The machine cut marble works, ‘Fragment’ and ‘Block’ were striking in their simplicity though it might have had more effect were they raised to eye level. If appreciation of the material was the hope, it was hard to do so with them on the floor.

The star of the show was without doubt the series of three screen prints, ‘Excavation’, using residual marble dust mixed with ink. Of the four works on offer, these engaged with Young’s concept of process, raising questions of labour both for the artist and quarryman. These pieces eloquently spoke of method and history, using traditional techniques in combination with the material in question, creating a visual language of sorts. Though there have been others who work in a similar fashion, his screen prints still somehow felt fresh. A show of the silk screen prints alone would have been just as, if not more, exciting.

They were much more sophisticated than the carving entitled, ‘Hand Stone’. Lost in the space, the piece was a little too reminiscent of a lesser version of Michelangelo’s ‘Prisoners’. Though technically impressive, this work left the viewer wondering why the artist felt the need to be quite so obvious and cliché, particularly when the rest of the works were clearly so nuanced and developed. Did he not trust the audience to understand his concept? Whatever the reason for this work, it left a somewhat vanilla taste in the mouth. The exhibition would have been considerably stronger without it.

We always welcome newcomers to art, especially those who give us hope that the development of artistic practice is not yet over.
It is better in fact, when you discover someone who works with traditional techniques but casts them in an altogether original light. These are the kinds of individuals that change our perspective and, really, that is what it is to be an artist. A piece of advice to offer Hamish Young: the simplicity of your prints are perfection, do not dumb it down! Though the show was a little short of perfection, this work held great promise.

Image Credit: Saffron Blaze

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