OPENING at Bloc Projects on Friday is Function, a group exhibition by Alistair Owen, Mike Gent, Nicola Dale and Paul Lewthwaite, who explore the lives of objects and their materials.
The work on show belongs somewhere between use and ornament but is often neither. Equipment is rendered useless and everyday materials such as water or wallpaper become a surface for exploring states of mind. They are tools for imaginative thought and their function is purely aesthetic.
London-based Alistair Owen’s practice uses a wide range of media, including installation, drawing, photography, film and sculpture, and explores the relationship between objects, systems and social presumptions.
He uses cardboard as an example of a material which becomes more significant when transformed into a usable object. A humble material used by all, it can house and pack some of the most precious artefacts and also provide shelter for the homeless.
Mike Gent from Stourbridge in the West Midlands uses his background in furniture design and technology to create objects that are ambiguous within their function. Water Cabinet is a combined utility device designed for use in a gallery setting. Here it creates a tension between itself, the setting and the viewer who may or may not be invited to help themselves to a glass of water.
Manchester artist Nicola Dale says: “The objects I use are often low-grade, mass-produced items which I manipulate until they’re free of usefulness.
“I am often drawn to making work that looks different each time it is displayed, so that although the forms I make are complicated, they are also pliable. In this way, I seek to give my pieces a life of their own – making their relationships with curators more intimate than they might otherwise be.’’
Paul Lewthwaite, based in Nottingham, contrasts an artwork to a tool. One transcends the realm of the useful while the other is defined by its use and in turns defines its user.
His exhibit, Non-whaling Tools 1, 2 and 3, were produced during a period of work while visiting Transplant Design Centre in Norway.
Function opens on Friday at Bloc Projects, Eyre Lane and continues until September 17.