Group 2

Six Rooms Gallery, Argyle Street, Birkenhead
14th September – 28th November 2010

Reviewed by Sebastian Gahan

The Six Rooms Gallery is a lovely venue of the Independents Biennial located in the otherwise unremarkable Hamilton Square. The second stage of the show opened recently, and having enjoyed the first group’s work, I headed down eagerly to their wonderfully unconventional yet comfortable creative rooms.

This second group’s works are somewhat different from the first, with less installations and more traditional formats in use. The installations are by Carolyn Shepherd, and include the piece Growth, which is a paper installation, with shredded paper arranged in a loose column shape in a darkened room, with more pieces arranged around the centre of the space. As a piece of art, it is imagination capturing, and it made me think of a storm of recycling winding around the room. Possibly not the intended message, but the use of shredded paper normally thrown away struck me as worthy in itself and therefore a good use of the material. Moving into the sunlit courtyard, I was instantly struck by the DNA molecule-like piece seemingly called Steel and Ceramics by Barry Canning-Eaton, that had an unconventionality to it that I appreciated, to the point that if I had the space on my invisible patio, it’d be there!

Cathy Wu’s work also caught my imagination, with the whole collection of pieces making a unique room indeed. Curator Theresia Cadwallader said that “having her calligraphy on display with other artists work has definitely made it accessible and beautiful” and I would concur. Visual work is a staple in art, but Wu’s calligraphy is written words from a visual language that is beautiful in and of its self. Cathy expressed surprise that people who don’t understand the Chinese written language would be interested in her work, but to my mind it is the visual quality, from many years of practice, that makes the pieces wonderful to many people. In particular, The Way with the Brush caught my eye, which I later discovered was one of Cathy’s own favourites too, based on a piece of advice from her calligraphy teacher! Next to impress was Susan Brown’s work, from which the pieces The Pickpocket and Umbrellas jumped out at me. The latter in particular, with its dark shades, almost melting silver sky and mysterious message struck me deep inside. Umbrellas are mysterious objects, plain in their intent, yet possible to be hidden under or behind, used as a potential weapon etc and this piece was almost a personification of that idea. Again, it’s one for my ideal living space!

There is much more to see than I can possibly do justice to in this review, but I will say that the following pieces caught my eye whilst exploring the refreshed space. David Brown’s Cornfield caught me unawares and made me appreciate its more traditional outlook. Toni Hughes’ photographic work universally made me catch a breath with his unique colour editing, bleeding every last drop of breathtaking scenery from the Wirral and Liverpool out into the open. Truly, his work is what photography should be about! Finally, Rob Symington’s work, the series of mixed media pieces Within You, Without You struck me with their colours and identities that all seemed to be evolving in front of my eyes as I looked at them.

Needless to say, there is more to see but that’s for you to discover and me to know. Simply put, make Hamilton Square your destination, even for an hour, and visit Six Rooms Gallery before Group 3 comes in and makes the space something entirely new!

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Sorry Comments Closed

Comment left by Cathy Wu on 5th November, 2010 at 19:25
Thank you for this lovely review! Pity that it didn't come out before our closing day, which is last Saturday. Nevertheless, this is a wet November heart warmer and great encouragement to be appreciated. Thank you!

Comment left by Alison Bailey Smith on 5th November, 2010 at 23:32
I have to disagree on one point, I don't find Hamilton Square unremarkable, I personally find it elegant and I am mystified as to why it has be allowed to be cut off from the rest of Birkenhead. It has georgian elegance on a grand scale that in Edinburgh would considered to be prime real estate (Charlotte Square at the west end of George Street and St Andrews Square at the east As you know I am involved in this project and we are all very appreciative of the support that we have had from Nerve Mag in reviewing each group.