14 May 2012
Beauty in the streets, unrefurbished spaces and skips of Brighton
The skip outside Brighton Town Hall isn’t rubbish, writes Chloë King. A yellow fluorescent tube highlights its edges, a wire fence surrounds it, and a notice pinned to the front reads, ‘What a time to invest public funded money in skips.’
It’s art, of course. The Skip (top and below) is part of David Batchelor’s ‘Brighton Palermo Remix’ exhibition, commissioned by the House visual arts festival, which runs in partnership with Brighton Festival from 6-27 May 2012.
All photographs: Bernard Mills.
With Batchelor as lead artist, this year’s House curator, Photoworks’ Celia Davies, has selected five artists that share Batchelor’s interest in ‘the overlooked and everyday’, to respond to the festival’s recurring theme of ‘domestic space’.
Below: David Batchelor, ‘Brighton Palermo Remix’ (detail), Regency Town House, Ground Floor.
The commissions are displayed as playful interventions in city centre locations, such as Brighton University, St Peter’s Church Gardens and outside the Town Hall (on private land). Which brings us back to David Batchelor.
Scots-born Batchelor is now based in London, where he finds many of the items he repurposes as sculptural installations. He’s a prolific artist and author of books on colour theory and Minimalism, among other things.
His most recent book, Found Monochromes (2010), comprises a collection of photographs of blank billboards and notices that he has been gathering since 1997. The photographs, eerie in their mundanity and exciting in their subtlety, are displayed as a slideshow in the basement of The Regency Town House on Brunswick Square in Hove, with the rest of his show.
The artworks have found a less controversial home in this venue, which is a brilliant space to show art in because it’s still being refurbished. The textures and tones of bare plaster help to bring David Batchelor’s illuminated installations down to earth.
Above: David Batchelor, Sickboy (detail), Regency Town House, Basement.
With ‘Brighton Palermo Remix’, Batchelor draws a connection between the two coastal towns: taking Palermo’s original street decorations – whitewashed timber frames and coloured lights – and transposing them into this unfinished interior setting in Brighton.
The scale is impressive. On the first floor a giant bauble of intersecting triangles (above) hangs delicately from a ceiling rose, as you walk round, it disappears into a sliver of light. On the ground floor a dark room is filled with the fuzzy warmth of coloured light, like a fairground ride designed for meditation.
Above: David Batchelor, ‘Brighton Palermo Remix’, Regency Town House, Ground Floor.
Batchelor’s Skip works because it’s familiar and funny, but it is also hard work because we have to have that old debate about public funded art. What makes most of ‘Brighton Palermo Remix’ so beautiful and valuable is that it brings the warm weather with it.
Photography by Bernard Mills.
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