Last night I went to a really strange and interesting exhibition up at the Forest on Bristo square. It's always worth a look in as the Forest is a volunteer run arts place, and there is usually something interesting going on, whether it's a poetry night, book reading, impromptu gig or one of the legendary parties!
They have a small gallery space attached to the cafe, and it changes over pretty regularly. Folk can get in touch and submit ideas for gallery displays or get involved in art happenings like the suitcase series which I believe is a long running project aimed at artists from all over working on a singular theme, and giving it their own interpretation to be set out on their behalf. So in theory you could live halfway across the world, but direct someone in Edinburgh to make your idea work and complete it for you. I think!
So yesterday at the gallery there was a joint exhibition by 3 lads with a similar theme to their practice. I was very intrigued and interested as it involved taxidermy and collections, 2 things I am quite excited about having used them in my own art. I've always loved display cases and dusty moth eaten museum specimens, insects and ephemera and have been scribbling away in my notebook for some time about returning to this subject, so it was a strange coincidence to stumble upon this 'unholy trinity,' of Rich DD Cormack, Omar Zingaro Bhatia and Jamie Fitzpatrick.
It seems they have all at some point entered the realms of curiosity shoppe territory, and they transformed the small gallery space into a wunderkammer cabinet of wonders. On entering the tiny space the first thing you can't help but notice is the huge albatross skeleton hanging overhead. This oddity is one of Rich's pieces, and somehow looks like a giant alligator with wings. It is apparently made of plaster. His other work on display was a series of eerie folk fairytale style paintings of wildlife and nature scenes, some in which he has depicted himself as a fox. The funniest piece is a painting of a rat, apparently picturing the first taxidermy he ever did. This dead rat looks very perky and is entitled, "my beloved dead rat, Taloola." I was quite taken with it!
The other very striking thing about this exhibition is that much of the work from the hands of Jamie Fitzpatrick is the freakish taxidermy specimens. The strangest thing about these is not that they are mutated creatures that feature top halves of one animal, and bottom halves of others, but the crazy notion that they are on show in a building that is known for it's vegetarian customers. The idea behind his 'Unnatural History Museum' is to confront the idea of transgenics, genetics, mythology and the fact that this reduces what was once a living thing to an object. Some of the beasties work better than others, the best being a duck-rabbit hybrid with the title, "What do you see?"
The third in the art trinity is Omar, a collector and frantic producer. He has previously had shows putting on display huge collections of his personal belongings, paintings and found objects. As a self confessed 'tipper' and avid collector, Omar creates his own treasure trove of curiosity shoppe art, in this case glass bottles hanging from strings that were dug out of the ground, books hanging on strings that were dug out of dusty libraries, and a number of darkly colourful paintings. Intriguing! My mother always told me to look but don't touch, but this is just the kind of exhibition that makes you want to break all the rules! Go see it before the poor creatures are liberated by the animal rights people!