About Time at Maddox Arts

Filed in Reviews by on May 8, 2014

About Time

Maddox Arts

4 April to 31 May 2014


The pressures of modern-day life loom large. Only recently did I read a newspaper article that proposed new ways to shave minutes off your power shower routine in the morning. It also revealed a considerable percentage of Londoners simply did not have the time to take a bath; it was considered a luxury in terms of time spent. We are too busy, trying to get a million things done within a specific time frame.

Miller Lagos’ framed newspaper pieces greet you on entry. From outside I was certain these were charcoal drawings, fluid circles on paper. On approach, I realised they were newspaper fragments, the same, that had been overlapped. They resembled the rings of tree trunks, the gradients of ink assuming wood grain like qualities. On one of these two pieces, were the hints of stock and shares. It captured a real sense of a multitude of people greeting the news in a different manner. This one moment, stuck on repeat in different scenarios. And yet, with its tree like connotations, had been, painstakingly, brought back to a representation of its original state

Another of Lagos’ works sat opposite a United Visual Artists piece. This time, Lagos had used newspapers to construct a tree stump. Wound round and round a cardboard middle. We see a tangible construct of time. Yes, the same could be said for anything that has been made, yet this is all the more poignant for being made with items that become disposable after a single read through. The Rings of Time basks in the glow of United Visual Artists light installation. Blue, orange and white lights hide underneath its geometric framing, casting beautiful colours onto its white background. You really have to train your eyes to be able to see if anything is changing at all, for they are so subtle. You have to, effectively, slow right down.

This rings true for Bill Viola’s work, a video installation of a man in tears. It is hard to even quantify what motion is even being made, spending moments wondering whether it is just a photograph. But then, you see the strands of saliva form and break, and the slow movement of his head from one side to the other. For a small group show, the work shown is incredible diverse. We are made to slow down to be able to view some pieces properly, time is presented to us in a tangible manner and we are shown frustration with the way time is measured. Seen most poetically in Glenda Leon’s hourglass that sits, half embedded in an enormous pile of sand. It may not be able to deal with our expectations of time. It may be that Leon no longer wishes to have every moment measured. Even it is a bigger concept than an hourglass can handle.

The press release speaks of our high-speed contemporary culture and the importance of slowing down and taking a moment. For me, curiosity is the most important factor, wondering how the pieces on show come to be or how they change. This has successfully been provoked. Works, and indeed your impressions of works, change on closer inspection when you realise what materials have been used, whether newspapers, dice or soot, or trying to untangle the symbols of Paul Huxley’s abstract metronome. The works are there to be absorbed.

This exhibition aims to confront modern living. Though, perhaps it knows there is little we can do to change the ongoing pace of life, merely to grant ourselves a momentary reprieve from it all. It definitely does. But, as good as the curation was, my favourite element being the tree trunk’s shadow changing under the UVA’s coloured lights, even the gallery could not escape the sounds of the building work outside. Ten minutes later I was back up to London walking pace, but I did have a little more to think about.

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Ann-Marie Rayney

About the Author ()

Ann-Marie Rayney is a printmaker based in London. Recently graduated from Goldsmiths with a Fine Art and Art History degree, she will most likely be found exploring London's cultural offerings or covered in ink at Sonsoles Print Studio in Peckham. To see some of her work, have a sneaky peak at her website here. http://cargocollective.com/annmarierayney

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