TINY: Exhibition Review

TINY at Sloe Gallery.

When you think of the word tiny, and how that theme will be displayed in an art gallery, I kind of had a pre-assumption as to what work would be in the exhibition – miniature pieces of art, art on a tiny-scale. I wasn’t completely wrong, but there certainly was more to it than that.

The exhibition statement reads: ‘Through the lens of ‘TINY’, we [Sloe Gallery] invite the audience to reflect on themes including politics, consumerism, history, memory, popular culture, the materiality of type and the interplay between technology, light and sound.’

So, with that in mind, here is a run-through of what pieces stood out to me.

Before arriving I didn’t imagine I’d see huge, microscopic photographs. It was great to see these artists’ flip the theme on its head, and present to us huge pieces of art. These images looked like an other-worldly landscape, it was impossible to tell what ‘Unknown Lands’ were photographs of. I can only describe the images as though I was looking at a macro photograph of wet sand, to me it looked like a grainy, sparkly terrain. Reading the artist statement (by Joseph Haigh and Helena Gregory) sadly I am non-the-wiser as to what the images are of! ‘Microscopic photography of minute text fragments, sourced from mundane ephemera, reveals complex structures and intriguing topographical features.’ I have touched on this before, about how artists statements can sometimes alienate people from the art world. It is a shame to link it to this exhibition, as I really do think the photographs are intriguing with incredible detail. It made me feel tiny, looking at these giant photographs, an image of a world I didn’t understand.

The first piece of work I came across was also my favourite piece in the exhibition, ‘Full of Lies’ by Justyna Adamczyk. Like a haunted forest, these mini, twisted, gothic trees jut horizontally out of the wall. These sculptures, together with the light, created dark shadows, like arms reaching out, stretching across the negative space. The artist writes, ”Full of Lies’ is a site-specific, small-scale installation, that focuses directly on the silence linked with forgotten victims of war.’ I think this piece would work on all scales. Yes, as it is tiny the shadows are more noticeable and are a key part of the work, but imagine this on a huge scale! Imagine walking through this sculpture? It’d be like you were in a Tim Burton film. The painted, blood-red, crooked and ghostly forest, looming overheard, whilst dark shadows surrounded your feet. How tiny would the audience feel then? Well done Justyna – I am a fan!

As I mentioned earlier, before attending the exhibition, I was expecting to see some ‘tiny’ pieces of art, and there was one piece which was a bit ‘cliche’. Lynn Allingham’s ‘Miniatures’ hits the nail on the head really. She has created miniature food sculptures, displayed beautifully in glass boxes. I admire the work, the pieces looked delicious, there was tons of detail, from juicy tomato sauce dripping out of a burger bun, and crumbs falling from a loaf of bread. Lynn creates food based models and jewellery that she sells on Etsy, and it was this work that didn’t seem to ‘fit’ with the others in the exhibition. There was no meaning behind the piece written in the artist’s statement, no history or story to relate to them. I don’t want this to take anything away from her art, which is intricate, beautiful and it really is tiny!

We at Cotton On MCR are big fans of Sloe Gallery but feel like this exhibition was a little hit and miss. There were some really great pieces, visually interesting and intriguing. And there were some that I didn’t ‘get’ or didn’t think suited the theme. There is also the issue with many of the artist’s statements throughout the exhibition, statements I didn’t understand and that didn’t help shed any light onto the work. I’m glad that I only read the statements after the exhibition so I could make my own impression of the artwork first. On the flip side, I commend the curators Amy Mizrahi and Robin Sukatorn, the co-founders of Sloe, for exhibiting some great pieces, ones that I wasn’t expecting under the title of ‘Tiny’. It was great to see a mix of tiny work, and work that also made me feel tiny.

Tiny is on at Sloe Gallery till 10th February.

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