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Exhibition Review: RA Walden – Object Transformations Through the Coordinate of Time

The Grundy Art Gallery’s new show opened on the 20th April 2024. David Simper caught the service 61 bus to Blackpool town centre to see what was on offer.

On entering the Grundy Art Gallery for this brand new exhibition, there was immediately a useful audio visual loop featuring the artist explaining their involvement in this project, which I sat and watched to get the feel of things. This is a very conceptual show and some did need explaining to a simple person like me.

This solo exhibition by RA Walden is presented as part of the Hybrid Futures initiative and runs in parallel with a group exhibition at Salford Museum and Art Gallery. It’s described as spanning sculpture, installation, text and moving image. The works mark and measure the passing of time. They draw on references including quantum physics, the ecological crises, ancient time-keeping and the life cycle of worms. An artist with disability, Walden’s exhibition aims to provide a poetic meditation on lives and bodies whose timekeeping does not conform to the supposed norm.

The exhibition consists of a series of illuminated clock faces formed from fluorescent tubes, symbols replacing the clock face numbers. A row of candles on the floor supports these, each equipped with a symbolic nail. On another wall sits a set of standard analogue clocks set to different times. Perspex cases contain mysterious sample bottles. Unique nails protrude from he wall – I thought they must be leftover from a previous project, but no, they are individual and part of the exhibition.

Two TV screens are mounted in the foyer, delivering a poetic audio-visual display. I don’t usually like video art, but I did sit through the reading of these poems and found them rather moving. A paper transcript of each poem was also on the seat.

One of the side galleries contained a full wall screen projection of candles burning, which in the quiet was very restful – I probably could have sat and watched these candles for an hour or so, but I had to move on.

Little piles of silvery metal objects were scattered around the gallery. These were pewter casts of earthworm burrows. They looked a little tempting to be taken as souvenirs to me, so I hope the CCTV is working.

The other side gallery was occupied by works from the Grundy permanent collection, which we all like to see. These had been selected to be complementary to the main exhibition. I have to admit that the main exhibition was a little over conceptual for my tastes and these complementary works were probably my favourite part of the show. They include a rather nice little piece by one of the gallery founders.

This is a brilliantly executed show full of ideas and technical skill, not least in shaping the bulbs for the fluorescent tube clock. I am still not sure that the row of candles on the floor with a nail tied to each, was bringing much to the party. However, there is much that is soothing about this exhibition and it is very much recommended. You can catch it until 15th June.

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    I have worked in the housing and transport professions for several local authorities, specialising in policy, strategy preparation and bid writing. Having always had an interest in film, the visual arts in general, theatre, music and lterature, I thought it would be good to combine the writing experience with these interests to contribute to altBlackpool. In addition to writing, my hobbies include watercolour and pastel painting, photography, woodwork, cycling and vegetable gardening.

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