Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Boom + Bust by Bex Ilsley at GOLDTAPPED

It’s one of those days. I feel wobbly. I fill up the kettle in preparation for an uninterrupted stint in the studio and notice the pale pink silt that lines the sink. It is the remnants of the paint being used to transform the walls of the GOLDTAPPED gallery space and create a new environment for the next exhibition. This is something that I am beginning to associate with the gallery. The walls are chameleon-like, changing hue with each new exhibition. I enjoy the way that colour is used to unite different elements and creates a context for the work. This is effective for the type of installation-based work that is often presented by GOLDTAPPED.

There is something about the dimensions of the space and the colour of the walls that reminds me of the bedroom of a young girl. The wavy dark pink horizontal line that wraps around the walls somehow reminds me of my mental state. It fluctuates; up and down.

Over the course of the next few days of install I am gradually introduced to the different elements that form the whole. Mood Swing (2018) is a large pendulum constructed from aluminium and steel. Positioned in the centre of the space, there’s no avoiding it. The reflective ball hangs, a weight on the end of a line. In my mind, the gentle ebb and flow of it swinging back and forth relates to the fluctuating line on the wall. Both elements suggest time, movement, set a pace, a rhythm.

There is a catchy rhythm and tune to BEX ILSLEY Finger Family Song Daddy Mommy Nursery Rhyme Kids Sing along! FUN SUNGS and MORE (2018). This short video references the highly popular “finger family” songs that are in abundance on YouTube. In keeping with this format, Ilsley’s video features a costumed persona against an animated background. The ‘dolled-up’ character waves her hand, showing the miniscule versions of the character’s head on each fingertip. The song takes us through each of the members that make up the ‘happy family’; Daddy, Mommy, Brother, Sister and Baby finger. It is all so artificial and exaggerated. It is hardly a realistic representation of the average family unit. The far-from youthful character is sexualised and ‘adultified’.

I cannot help but reflect on the effect that technological developments are having on childhood and familial structures and relationships. I feel uncomfortable and disappointed that childhood innocence and freedom is being threatened. Similar thoughts, and a concern for her sister prompted Ilsley to create 44 loci, two light boxes leaning against the wall opposite the video screen. One light box features the character from the video, and the other is a younger version of this character, as played by Ilsley’s 10 year old sister. I recall the difficulties that I faced as I was growing up and think about the whole range of new issues that the youth of today have to deal with.

On a brighter note, I am thankful that galleries such as GOLDTAPPED are programming work that explores mental health and encourages discussions around issues raised in the exhibitions to take place across cities. Given the content of the work in the exhibition, it seems fitting that the Coventry based artist used technological platforms such as facebook and skype to work closely with the Liverpool based curator, Mia Cathcart.

The exhibition is open by appointment only until Saturday 18th August, so there is not much time left before the sink gets its next wash of GOLDTAPPED paint!

Photos: Amelia Read

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