Gallery Seventeen: Run Ended
An onlooker would not be mistaken if, upon walking down the steps of Gallery Seventeen, host of Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) collaboration In The Flesh, they were slightly confused about the brief. You are greeted with a sketchpad attached to the wall with modernist charcoal sketches straight ahead, to your right a tactile mixed media project and opposite an array of body parts print screened almost violently over and over again. A heavy start to an already quite claustrophobic space you are thrown into.
“It’s all about process, really”, one artist’s explanation of the hand painted skin-coloured latex hanging over a descent of stairs. The hanging flap of skin makes a striking break-up of the space yet does not seem to make a clear connection to the theme.
The second room unravels a more psychological nature to the show, as 25% of sales go to Edinburgh based Mental Health charity PENUMBRA, it was interesting to see how the work interacted with this. A sound piece consisting of distorted vocals of the artist groaning at staggered intervals was a disconcerting intermission. When asked what the connection to the theme was, the artist replied that it was not a vanity project, instead he was more interested in an individual’s response shifting focus from artist to audience; vague yet stimulating.
Other highlights included a more corporeal response to the theme with a flesh toned muscle diagram of the chest and a face amongst a repetition of patterns that seem to become fingerprints carved into slate. A DNA-like spiral of neatly plaited cord lay unravelling on a table nearby, exploring an uncoiling of natural symmetry.
The exhibition is not lacking in mediums representative of ECA’s diverse make-up; sound installation, printmaking, portraiture, and mixed media. Perhaps more sculptural works would have flavoured the collection more and certain pieces could have better exploited the theme conceptually. Overall, the show is an effective use of an intimate and intense space with thoughtful composition and narrative.