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

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Paul Chaney

Paul Chaney’s work thematises and disrupts the traditional framing of ‘Nature’ in several ways, some subtle, some more confrontational. His work is above all concerned with an effort to coexist with other living beings. To become close to nature, for Chaney, is at the very least to repudiate the notion that the natural world is something unreservedly worthy of our admiration, something from which we can draw comforting meaning. Battles with un-aestheticised nature are central to Chaney’s practice. His ongoing work F I E L D C L U B (2004-present) consists in his own attempt to live ‘off-grid’ in a remote field in the southwest of the UK. He grows his own food, disconnected from public utilities and drawing as little on outside resources as possible. Much of his recent work continues to document incidents in the day-to-day course of this experiment in living, small occurrences which never fail to blacken the name of Eden. A bracing antidote to all that is sentimental, deluded and terminally bourgeois in discourses of the rural and ‘environmental’, Chaney proposes more profound and twisted philosophical roots for them, plunging the viewer into strange situations, emotions and perceptions that expose the urgency and complexity, not to mention the humour and the irony, of the problem at hand.
- Robin Mackay

Crap Corn, in situ at F I E L D C L U B

Chaney’s practice derives from his personal observations of nature and land use. His work Crap Corn has immortalised the transient event of last year’s crop failure due to a wet summer. Casts of twenty-five withered ears of corn, which had failed to pollinate, have been positioned as specimens on plinths. The radiant enamel paint on the corn entices the viewer, who can only be repulsed by the pathetic product. Chaney gently satires the idealistic trend for the utopian ideal of self-sufficient living, hinting at society’s dependency on globalisation and the mass market for its survival.
- Ruth Gooding

Recent Exhibitions
2009 The New Landscape, Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro
2008 The Lonely Now (solo), Goldfish, Penzance
2008 Nature Morte, Urbanomic, Falmouth
2008 Psycho-geographies, Newlyn Art Gallery, Newlyn

Paul Chaney's website

Robin Mackay is a philosopher and the editor of Collapse Journal, published by Urbanomic

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