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> > > Review: Shape present Perceptions Of Balance
black and white image of layers of sea and sky

Seascape by Mark Adams

Nine artists, brought together as part of Shape’s Creative Steps programme, use varied media to illustrate and express their encounters with how they may or may not experience equilibrium.  On show at Lauderdale House until 3rd February 2013. Review by Richard Downes

Melodie Holiday’s busy screen print ‘Dyslexia’ reveals a struggle with numbers, accusations of lazy untidiness. She claims to have a cinema in her head, sees everything completely and believes we all do.  She seeks to ‘embrace and acknowledge our differences positively’. I stand before the print mesmerized, looking for understanding. I am perceptive but unless I understand I will not find balance here. The viewer is challenged to look. The work is worth the effort.

Dolly Sen’s photograph ‘Tablets’ shows two hands. The first holds up a note saying; ‘I O U A LIFE’, the other; a collection of tablets. I am forced to consider this juxtaposition. Is she thankful for the pills? Is she messaging someone else with the truth; “a tablet does not cure abuse, isolation or stigma”, and if so who is she calling forward; the dispenser, abuser, society or self. Is it an ironic joke at the expense of psychiatry? The picture holds power but no answers. Maybe equilibrium stands in not knowing, working out puzzles, or finding solutions. Dolly is known for throwing humour into the face of her oppression. It doesn’t make her any less serious.

Ivan Riches presents 100 painted, half opened matchboxes developed over ‘a lived manufactured timeline’. Some boxes continue the same theme on the inside as they do on the outside. Other inner boxes conflict with the outside, making in/sensible correlations. What you see on the outside is not what I feel on the inside. And so it is the external, twisted snake exposed to society hides a seagull in flight.

We are told we experience the external environment regardless of our inner thoughts, our ideas, and yet the internal thought may be more powerful, more worthy with the empirical facts we deal with, respond to. Both need to be shown. Voices need to be heard. Each miniature could stand alone such is the talent on display, but together the 100 demand attention and somehow remind me of activists demonstrating on common ground, but arriving together from different perspectives.

Mark Adams presents two grainy, black and white seascapes with many shades of grey in between. In doing so he is probably the only artist among the nine who truly achieves equilibrium in terms of  peace, calm and balance. The slowness of his shutter speed de-accelerates movement in sea and sky, blurring and softening edges that may confront him when shooting. Calm is relayed successfully to the viewer. If this is equilibrium I want it. It makes me desire quiet, shelter from the busy noise of my life. He has achieved on paper what I have never realised in life.

I have never known balance. I focus on one thing to the detriment of another. My current involvement with loneliness negates love and friendship. My advocate abhorred my administrator. My administrator denied my artist. Failure to find peace propels me to Perceptions Of Balance.

I am drawn to information. Shape clarify the concept behind Perceptions of Balance with a poem made from statements provided by the nine artists (Aidan Moesby, Jo Paul, Juan delGado, Michael Clements, and Sinead O’Donnell are also represented here). The poem appears on the Shape website at this link.

I’d like to have seen the full texts by the artists. But like the individual matchboxes standing of themselves, working together and inviting mystery I wonder at what is missing? Why do we struggle so? What hasn’t this reviewer commented on? Seek and you may find equilibrium.

Shape's 'Perceptions of Balance' exhibition is on show in Lauderdale House, Highgate, London until 3 February