Constructions

It is no coincidence that Constructions finds itself in the working offices of a company of chartered surveyors. The name itself initially seems like an amusing pun, however it is the combination of the office environment and the exhibition’s name that also takes the works from conceptual and functionless and provides them with a firm grounding in everyday life as reflections of a part of humanity that everyone can relate to- that of the basic human desire to build and construct. This may be from necessity (as protection or in the form of a dwelling), or as self-expression (in this case, artwork).

When we talk of “construction”, we are largely referring to one of two chief definitions- the conceptual and the material or tangible. In this exhibition, both meanings are explored equally, with particular focus on how the two relate to and interact with each other. Does form follow function? Can the two be mutually exclusive, or are they utterly necessary to each other’s existence? After all, there is no art that can exist without some level of physical construction, by human hand as well as mind; and equally a construction cannot be without a conscious or mindful presence to originate it.

Constructions has the creative process as its central theme, both in the abstract term of envisioning an idea and taking it from its mental conception through to a finishing point; but also in literally generating something- the physical task of making something exist. It has connotations of beginning and end points, of processes and labour, and of “the manual”- a person’s presence through their physical creation.

The artists exhibiting in Constructions each share amongst themselves the common notion that an artwork is more than output, or what is left after an anonymous process; that a piece of creative work should serve as a monument to a process, rather than as an unstoried, isolated entity. Construction does not have to begin with nothing, or a blank canvas; it can also be to do with changing or altering something that already exists- a place, a building (in this case a space- an office); or something metaphorical: one can “construct” a mental image or picture from a selection of inputs, rather like putting together the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.

By naming the exhibition “Constructions”, the pieces shown automatically become representations of the title. In being designated as constructions, they invite the viewer to consider and decipher their roots, histories and productions; they are given lives of their own where they might otherwise exist only in the static incarnations of artworks in a gallery. We are given to guess at the raw materials of these pieces, at the alchemical actions that took place and left us with their legacies, and in doing this we become part of their lives. We construct in our own minds a relationship between ourselves and the artists, after all, we are interacting with them via the media of their artworks. What we are looking at are inventions- much as the exhibition itself is, having been constructed consciously by bringing together a physical, pre-existing space and the fabrication of others- it is an invention to alter the space which it inhabits.