Newlyn Art Gallery

24th April - 16th May 2009

In this exhibition, both literal and metaphorical ‘wastelands’ were represented by a range of contemporary art.

Desolate landscapes, dysfunctional societies and broken minds were portrayed in a variety of media including painting, installation and performance, which in different ways seem to evoke the geographical and psychological themes of T.S. Eliot’s poem The Waste Land of 1922. The show included work by Jane Bailey, Sarah Bunker, Paul Chaney, Joe Doldon, Andy Harper, Ally Mellor, Kate Parsons, Alison Sharkey, Lucy Willow, Alexandra Zierle and Paul Carter.

The exhibition was co-curated by Rebecca Darch, Jeni Fraser, Ruth Gooding and Phil Rushworth, who were students on MA Curatorial Practice at University College Falmouth, graduating in September 2009

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Alison Sharkey

Sharkey’s practice is often based on observations and encounters recorded while exploring inaccessible or abandoned areas and spaces. Sharkey documents traces of past occupation and assimilates them into poignant, provocative and playful art works. This approach is exemplified by her three modified recreations of the military rescue-training dummy ‘Ruth Lee’. These life-sized models are a brutal presence in the gallery environment.
- Ruth Gooding


The Ruth dummy’s weighted inner core and outer carcass achieve a realistic size and weight, resembling the human proportions of a heavy adult male. Based on the generic ‘Ruth Lee’ brand training dummy that I encountered while exploring a Ministry of Defence training landscape, they are refigured for the gallery space, transformed from resilient, utilitarian tools into vulnerable dead weights.
The method of construction in these versions are far from robust, causing the ‘slumping’ of the aggregate so the dummy will lose its shape when in use. The inner canvas seams will split easily; the outer layer is not durable and will be corrupted by oil, rough surfaces and sharp objects. The identified high stress areas have not been reinforced. If the dummy is dragged along the ground there is no protection against abrasion. It is not recommended that they are dropped from a second story window, run over by a car, dropped into a foaming sea, or set on fire. They are badly designed to be rescued for eternity. With their functionality suspended, we experience them as redundant and useless debris asserting an inert and eerie presence.
- Alison Sharkey


Recent Exhibitions
The New Landscape, Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro
Out of Bounds, The Exchange, one night event, Penzance
Galled, Porned, Cheeked, Folded, Glued and Printed, Spike Island Zine
Fair, Surface Gallery Open, Surface Gallery, Nottingham
Mined, King Edward Museum, Pool, Cornwall
Unity Wood, MORE, Cornwall
Happidrome One, Goonhilly Nature Reserve, Cornwall
Sound:Space screen, South Hill Park Arts Centre, Bracknell

Alison Sharkey's website

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