Vanessa Billy’s subtle interventions and artworks in her new exhibition ‘Flexible Values’ needed a bare, tranquil space to breathe. As the gallery filled up throughout the evening, I saw a couple of people trip up over her unassuming sculptural piece ‘Four Times Weathered’ and duck under the acrylic arch of the work ‘Fluids’. This interactivity, whether intentional or not, seemed a nice touch as so much of the exhibition seemed hinged on the relationships between the individual artworks and how the viewer moves around them.
‘Dry Stamina’, a slope of sand that ran across the floor of the gallery, was dispersing and mutating as the evening progressed, again alluding to the fluidity of the experience of the exhibition, and to the journey of the viewer in the space.
The curation of the show seemed as important as the works; sculptures such as ‘Suns neither Rise Nor Set’, two circular glass objects mounted on the walls, could seem too simplistic without its interaction with the other artworks. Instead, the piece resonates with some kind of otherworldly meteorological or astronomical idea, the more I moved around the space the more it seemed I was looking at some kind of fragile model of a solar system. Everything was placed in a very considered way; Billy created an unearthly mood very succinctly. This is necessary to the show’s success: the materials that kept appearing – pale pastel coloured tissues, transparent acrylic and glass – needed a strong sense of placement to anchor them in the exhibition. Not that the work seemed flimsy or insubstantial, just that Billy’s handling of materials, even in the case of concrete plinths as in ‘Four Times Weathered’, seemed naturalistic and feminine. This feeling managed to transform the gallery into a delicate, atmospheric space.
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