Brushes with Culture

This is a space where I can reflect on the many fascinating things that I experience. Some of the things I brush with are Culture with a capital C. Others are just intriguing moments. Sometimes I am brushing with these moments in a hurry. This is a chance to relive those moments in tranquility. These are the stories I tell myself in those quieter moments.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Brown Sugar in Chelsea

Philomena Francis has just finished her degree at Chelsea College of Art & Design, now nicely snuggling between the Millbank Tower and Tate Britain. I was at the private view of the finalists' work last Friday and, boy, was it BUSY, and HAPPENING, and full of ART STUDENTS.

Consquently I saw lots of things that tried hard and said little.

But I saw one thing that was deceptively simple and elegant, while speaking volumes. And luckily it was my friend's work.

It's called "Molasses" and the room in which it appears is etched in treacle, repeating a huge female face over and over the four walls (see image). The reference to blaxploitation and Marsha Hunt is deliberate, as are the connotations of brown sugar. Her last work was made out of sugar and sacking and depicted slave women. This simplification is where she's arrived after five years studying fine art. Being in the room is wonderful because of the smell and the lines dripping round you. Sadly the image doesn't capture that element.

So, from my initial delight in the decorative value as I walked in - "I'd love you to decorate my new house!" - to recognising the faces and fingers in the web of brown lines spidering across the walls, to working out the many political layers of the work; it was a conceptual piece with enough of the sensual to be overwhelming on both dimensions.

Apparently men want to lick it. Though not as much, I'm told, as they wanted to lick the naked sugar bodies of the last work. Me, I had to work not to run a finger under a drip, but that's just a response learnt from a lifetime of catching drips from jugs and bottles.

I hope she gets the first she deserves. Results on Friday...


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