In markedly differing ways, each artist has built a multi-fold construction that plays with scale, colour and material to challenge audience expectations around art and everyday objects, public spaces and image-making, as well as modernism and the imagination.
Through these installations Armanious, Robinson and Speers create complex universes, bringing together formal and conceptual concerns, and adeptly keeping numerous readings available and ‘in play’.
Hany Armanious’s Selflok (1993-2001) is a whimsical ancient-mythical-modern installation, described as an amalgam of elfin workshop, fantastic pre-industrial grotto and pharmacological paradise. Unconventionally playful, it is a theatrical re-creation of an imaginary place, presenting a simulated artisanal past that brings together a complex of materials and associations.
Peter Robinson’s If You Were To Work Here: The Mood In The Museum (2013) is a site specific work comprising numerous poles covered in blue, red, green and yellow felt. It suggests a different occupation of space; one that might be used to disrupt modernism’s autonomy. The installation reflects the artist’s interest in bringing strangers together to co-create work with him, as it relies on the participation of the public and museum staff to install elements of the work in ‘non-gallery’ spaces, expanding the work beyond the usual boundaries it inhabits. Govett-Brewster staff were invited to select colour sticks and place them within the building. This project by Robinson has recently been nominated for the Third International Awards of Public Art in Hong Kong, winner to be announced March 2017.
Jim Speers’ Crystal Spirit (2009) is an enigmatic assortment of found images, text and colour that appear to be an inventory of visual footnotes harvested from the internet. The juxtaposition of visual, historical and verbal references muddles the space between art and the things that surround us everyday. Using existing material from a global, digital culture, the installation alludes to post-industrial packaging and signage, social media and design – and eloquently inhabiting a space between the poetic and the skin-deep.