dividing line at high house gallery

6 October 2012 § 1 Comment

Running alongside Imagined Pasts / Unknown Futures (see recent post) at the Oxfordshire High House Gallery is the sculpture exhibition Dividing Line. This takes place in the beautiful formal gardens that run around the Gothic grade II listed mansion. If you did not quite feel that a visit to Imagined Pasts / Unknown Futures was good enough a reason to cruise out in to the lovely Oxfordshire countryside then this should more than tip the balance. 

The dividing line of the title stands as a conceptual separation or distinction; a line from which contrasts can be observed and old ideas re-examined. This exhibition boldly aiming to “spotlight contemporary outdoor sculpture that has escaped the tradition of re-regurgitating stale figurative and modernist modes.”

This is a bold statement and a brave exhibition to hold right in the beating traditional heart of conservative  ‘Middle England’ – in David Cameron‘s home constituency infact. Whilst it is possible to site examples of contemporary outdoor sculpture within the public realm, the private market – and no doubt especially here – still trends towards more historically established styles. 

At High House shunning conventional expectations has allowed the exhibiting artists to create outdoor sculpture that embodies truly contemporary themes, materials, production and ideas. Many of the participating artists are primarily known for their indoor works; and in some cases this exhibition presents their first foray into outdoor sculpture. 

Nika Neelova‘s Partings is the first work to greet you to the garden – quite appropriate since its main feature is a door. Cast in black concrete from an original from Somerset House it is a bold an powerful statement on the old vs new theme. Adeline de Monsegnat‘s contribution is Mother HEB – a blown glass ball filled with red fox fur (vintage of course!) – a surrealist style object that reflects the light, building and surrounding gardens to great effect. Her tubular Spworms emerge from the water features elsewhere in the garden.

Other strong works are Alex Chinneck‘s Concrete Cross Dresser – a playful concrete version of a Persian Carpet, Amy Stephens‘ Social Pod which gives new life and meaning to whale vertebrae which are mounted on steel poles like re-imagined fighter-jets and Jiho Won‘s self-explanatory Transformed Memory.

The exhibition is an excellent cohesive whole where the works bravely fit the formal Victorian garden beautifully. It does beg the question of whether the locals in a region where red corduroy trousers matched with some green tweed is considered the height of good taste ever be persuaded that a concrete door supported from a charred pole is a sensible garden sculpture? I am intrigued to discover the answer, although I would be more sure that the red fox fur  inside a glass ball (of Adeline de Monsegnat’s Mother HEB) will at least find some support with the hunt followers.

You can visit and make your own decisions up to 14 October 2012. (I understand that although this is the official end of the exhibition most sculptures will be installed until 29 October 2012. You may wish to call to arrange a visit after the official exhibition closes).

Exhibition curated by Sumarrialunn in co-operation with High House Gallery.

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