Friday, 13 November 2015

Toys (Are Us)

This Thursday (19th November) sees the opening of 'Toys (Are Us)' at The Crypt Gallery, a group show of artworks based around the theme of toys – or to be more precise, 'the impact of toys on human development, society and the environment'. The show has been put together by artist/curator, Kosha Hussain, co-curated by Chloe Dall'Olio, and features works by over twenty national and international artists.

As Kosha explains on his Tumbler page (when choosing the right photo for the flier), 'the concept behind the image is a homage to the short essay that provided most of the initial inspiration to the show. It is an essay written by the French philosopher and semiotician, Roland Barthes, titled… 
‘Toys’ that appears in his 1957 book Mythologies. In it, he talks about two main things, the transition of the materiality of toys from wood to plastic and as a result, the way it affects the child’s developmental relationship with the toy. But perhaps more interestingly in my opinion, he brings forward the observation that what most toys are, is a miniaturisation of the grown up world, of its institutions and systems, and what these objects of mimesis do is attempt to subvert the child’s unruly imagination, desire and sense of identity.' 

I joined the selected group a little late in the day which is why you don't see my name on the list of exhibiting artists. But never mind – I'll just assume the role of mystery, special guest.

As anyone who knows my work can testify, I like to play around with the theme of toys and childhood perceptions of adulthood, so for this show I'll be exhibiting my sculpture, 'Magnet', which is literally made up of toys. Magnet is the largest piece in a series of four wheeled, tower sculptures (the others being The City, Book Tower, and Fetish) that all relate to our obsession with objects and material possessions. All the pieces in the series have aesthetically over-sized wheels, intended as a comment on the mobility restrictions that having so many possessions places upon us as a species.

Whereas the other works in the series dealt with revered or fetish materials, Magnet was initially supposed to represent the disposable and worthless aspect of consumer society. Yet, knowing the quirks of human nature, I turned this notion of worthlessness on its head by incorporating several prized and sort after ‘collectables’.

Originally named Toy Tower the piece was re-named Magnet after its first public showing, when it became apparent that young children, and older toy enthusiasts, found it difficult to resist physically interacting with the sculpture. At its first exhibition four young boys actually managed to wheel Magnet out of the gallery before the invigilator spotted the piece was missing and hurriedly retrieved it before it got too far down the street. Hopefully this won't happen this time, especially since the show takes place underground (in the wonderfully atmospheric Crypt Gallery below St. Pancras Church – probably the coolest current contemporary art space in central London), and any potential souvenir hunters would first have to carry the piece up quite a few steps in order to leave the building. Fingers crossed!

Toys (Are Us) 
Opening 19 Nov (6-9pm)
19-21 November

Crypt Gallery
Euston Road

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