The Penultimate WAKE and ARCHIPELAGO…

The Penultimate WAKE & ARCHIPELAGO

By Flavia Malim 

Under the cool shadow of the trees I enter Dilston Grove and exchange weather related comments with the girl on the desk, who recognises me, this having been my at least my fifth visit. I lean on the heavy wooden door and it gives way, letting me into a brightly illuminated alcove and making the rest of the unlit space pitch dark. My eyes adjust and I see a flickering film covering the whole of the far wall like an altarpiece or a stained glass window. It’s a silent movie with a painterly, watercolour quality, glimmering and  cycling through intense but subtle washes of green, red and blue. Composed like a still life; two ladders form a cross, lying at a 45 degree angle, reminiscent of the crucifixion. The black rubbish bags from last week rest between the ladders like the rock blocking the tomb of Jesus. This work is the first I have seen in this exhibition to reference the origins of the site as a church.  A moving, meditative piece, it responds beautifully to the previous work, embracing the strange fruit of the previous week.

In the Cafe Gallery, the artists continue to expand towards each other, tentatively invading each other’s spaces. Four tentacles of red rope are Unravelling, reaching out to Florence Peake, Helena Bryant, Caroline Wilkinson and Zoe Mendelson. A hank of Helena Goldwater’s hair hides behind the door to Graeme Miller’s Conjunction. Large chunks of Audience Chamber jigsaw cover two walls approaching Zoe Mendelson’s wall drawing. Helena Bryant sleeps on her pile of boulders, head resting on her suitcase, while Michelle Griffiths serenades us – her songs and tree branches reaching and growing to the welcome desk. Five shelves now signal Fiona Templeton’s presence, each holding piles of booklets. In the foyer, The Crow who didn’t knowhas poured forth a flock of sheets of unknowing.

Despite the growth, a feeling of cautiousness hangs in the air, and a lack of acknowledgement of the presence of the other. The Cafe Gallery remains an archipelago. Isolated castaways stare out to sea but appear to be looking down the wrong end of the telescope. No challenges have been made, no invasions, no piracy, but no mergers or marriages either. It’s a polite hatter’s tea party, rather than a mutiny on the high seas. I longed for Long John Silver to make an entrance and indulge in a bit of looting and kidnapping.

Image: WAKE Week 5 – Rachel Lowe. Photo by Laura Milnes.

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