REVIEW:Your Garden is Looking a Mess Could You Please Tidy It Up @ PayneShurvell - FAD Magazine

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REVIEW:Your Garden is Looking a Mess Could You Please Tidy It Up @ PayneShurvell


Image:Rudolf Reiber

4th November- 17th December

Contemporary artist Andrew Curtis turns curator this Autumn. The exhibition, entitled Your Garden is Looking a Mess Could You Please Tidy It Up, brings together the work of acclaimed artists Sir Peter Blake, Gerard Hemsworth, Rupert Ackroyd, Peter Kennard and Bruce McLean alongside emerging artists and recent graduates. Together they explore the role of print in the today’s culture of digital dependency.

The nucleus of the exhibition is the iconic Marlboro cigarette flip top box. Designed in 1955 by Phillip Morris, its future is looking increasingly imageless. The question posed here is whether or not, in the digital world, print can survive. The thought of being ‘offline’ is rare and ‘in print’ even less likely. Yet, as this exhibition demonstrates, print must not be dismissed but rather re-evaluated and re-imagined in the digital age. Your Garden is Looking A Mess highlights the significance of print through creative revival, questioning and exploration.

The visual language of paraphernalia is communicated through colour, line, shape and space. Your Garden is Looking A Mess conveys the dialogue that is passed between these objects and ourselves in society. Through the different mediums of video, sculpture, photography and paint our understanding of print is expanded and played upon.

The form of utilitarian objects is explored through the work of Marie Jeanne Hoffman’s video which shows the dismantling and reassembling of the cigarette box. The video highlights the architectural structure of the packet. In doing so, the box is removed from its position as a ‘useful’ object and is assessed in terms of its design. Rupert Ackroyd also examines the relationship between objects and their structural appearance. Similarly, Dermot O’Brien uses the design of a single cigarette packet to create a miniature sculpture of the Bates family mansion from Hitchcock’s film Psycho.

The exploration of print is a springboard for assessing the future of advertising. Your Garden is Looking a Mess looks at advertising by taking it beyond its expected rules of engagement. The pop artist Sir Peter Blake uses the cigarette box as a way to examine this while Greg Day uses advertising campaigns as a way to understand the shape of society and the position of individuals within it. Bruce McLean takes a daily copy of The Daily Mirror and incorporates it within his existing work.

On the surface, Your Garden is Looking a Mess appears to be just that. There is an unusual collection advertisement strips, newspapers, photographs and videos and at first it does seem unconnected. Yet, as each piece is considered the versatility, beauty and importance of print is unravelled. The digital age is obsessed with the hyper-minimal aesthetic but print is fundamental in connecting the physical structure of society. This exhibition uniquely and intelligently conveys the history of print, explores its developments and considers its role in today’s society. Ultimately, it’s a reminder that print is not dead and that the clutter of paraphernalia is essential in compiling the physical history of the individual, of society and of art.


Sian Gray



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