QEHS - Arts and Property Services (Queen Elizabeth High School, Hexham)
Available to View...A dynamic new property development in the heart of rural Northumberland! We are pleased to announce that there is a new addition to the Dolls House Room at Wallington Hall. Hiddenamongstthe the community of well loved domestic properties stands a concrete modernist tower-block. This is home to 8 emerging artists who have converted each of their apartments into a site specific installation for the duration of the 'Unfinished Business' exhibition. Viewing is strongly recommended!
Artists Marie McLoughlin Philip Kent Viviane Straub Kate Osmond Laura Moyle James Battye Gabrielle Barkess-Kerr (read Gabrielles's text below) Dominic Bate (read Dominic's Text ' The Elephant in the Room Below')
Gabrielle Barkess-Kerr As part of an assemblance of rooms, this piece challenges the role of women in society, combined with the analysis of women as the artist. With gender as a challenging and thought provoking issue, the dolls stand each in their own right as symbols of how a woman can be many things, as demonstrated by the fact that they can be reassembled in russian doll format to fit one another. The mirror suggests reflection on the issue at hand, and forcing analysis of society and women’s current role in society, as well as women’s examination of themselves. The largest doll is a religious representation of women, and a symbol of the impact of religion in relation to women in art. The second depicts a nurse, which embodies the idea of women in service, a traditionally female defined profession. The next is of a Muse, in Pre-Raphaelite style, and exploring the idea of women conforming to feminine ideals; in this case, red hair and pale skin. This progresses onto a depiction of a Prostitute, as inspired by paintings such Toulouse Lautrec. Following this is the Mother and Child, which is one of the primary subject focuses of Leonardo Da Vinci, Galileo and Raphael. The next is a baby, whose 50% off sign is symbolic of societies sense of females lesser worth. Finally, the inner doll, painted gold, is there to represent the inner artist and the spirit of women. A scattering of many little dolls house objects seek to represent witch burning, domesticity and fragile steriotypes of women, that have for the most part been overcome, or have they? The room acts as a white walled place of reflection, and becomes part of the many rooms of societies complexities.
The Elephant in the Room
Up until the final decade of the last century, dolls houses were a staple foodstuff in what was for Britain’s young, a technologically basic diet of playthings. In light of this decline, the collaborative work produced by students at QEHS represents a certain renewal of interest in a tradition which no longer commands the same popularity and affection of its target market, to which it must surely look outmoded. This makes any reassessment of that tradition both necessary and (given the setting) appropriate.
Their particular interpretation favours an art practice which upholds utility, resourcefulness and improvisation as valid alternatives to that precision craftsmanship of which the Bell Scott Mural and Wallington’s collection of miniature houses are clearly fine examples. The resultant work is playful and naïve, not precious, self-conscious or pretentious. Above all it seeks to provide an objective look at our society by examining a few of its many facets individually, with no single shelf in the cabinet (or floor of the tower block!) the same. Among the themes discussed are:
The banality of the everyday
Urbanisation (and urban sub-cultures)
Gender politics/ aspects of womanhood (and the socio-political development of women through history)
The proliferation of ‘the brand’ and consumerism
Materialism, individualism, decadence and excess in the developed world