Monday, 3 June 2013

Bronwen Sleigh – Construct

Edinburgh Printmakers until July 20
4 stars
At first glance, this body of some thirty-eight architecture-based 
prints and 3D constructions look like blueprints for some Russian 
constructivist science-fiction futurescape built for a Tarkovsky film 
by way of a Ladybird book. Look closer, however, beyond the 
sleekly-angled swish of the lines, and you'll see that these visions of 
the future were built some time ago, be it as airports, stadiums or any 
other epically proportioned hub of congregation, comings or goings as 
befits of any international big city metropolis brimming with ambition.

There's a utopian urgency at play here, in images of locales that range 
 from Charles de Gaule airport in Paris to Meadowbank Stadium and beyond 
that look like nothing on earth. With everything seemingly in motion 
amidst a fanfare of metallic greens and bloodrush reds, there's a 
wide-eyed sense of wonder in Sleigh's stranger's gaze that suggests she 
too might have come from another planet. There's something heroic too 
in the wooden and wire constructions dotted about the gallery like some 
undiscovered stratosphere, implying a voyage of discovery at every 
turn.

One imagines the theme tune fanfares and sweeping strings of jet age 
pop anthropology show Wicker’s World being piped through these 
reimagined monuments as travellers pass through borders. Either that, 
or else the des-res idyll of 'Home Is Heavenly Springs,' the space-age 
installation brought to Edinburgh's Princes Street Gardens by art/pop 
conceptualists A Sudden Sway a quarter of a century ago.

While the practical day-to-day reality of Sleigh's subjects  with all 
their failures, design faults and terminal obsolescence will never 
match her unsullied visions, Sleigh is in one sense capturing a purity 
of an imagined future that went beyond mere functionality. In this 
sense, 'construct' is a form of legitimised nostalgia, both for a past 
intent on conquering worlds, and for an age yet to come.
The List, June 2013

ends

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