Afternoon Dust

Jack Lavender and Joanne Masding

Joanne Masding - Plaster Ghost Finger Cast, irregular white plast sculptures on the walls and floor of a gallery space

Jack Lavender’s solo exhibition ‘Stones’ at Recent Activity’s delightfully awkward, misshapen space consists of a number of wall drawings in rich, earthy colours. Apart from the bones outlined on the side of the raised ‘stage’, the drawings consist of odd, irregular shapes and lines, as if more regular shapes had somehow been squeezed, squashed, and deformed by subsidence, tectonic plate movement, or the pressure of an ever-growing stratigraphy of sediments. In the context of the space, the drawings mirror the roughness and irregularity of the décor and architecture; forget about the context, and you’re no longer sure whether what you’re seeing is decades old, millennia old, or brand new.

The irregularly-shaped, roughly finished objects in Joanne Masding’s exhibition ‘Plaster Ghost Finger Cast’ could also be taken for ancient geological artefacts, but only for a moment — closer inspection reveals the ghostly imprints of rectangles and other regular shapes, and anyway those floppy-looking, brightly-coloured acrylic handles that contrast so nicely with the rough white plaster make it clear that these are objects made to be looked at and appreciated for their carefully thought-through aesthetic. I really like the presentation of this work at The New Art Gallery’s cuboid Floor 4 gallery, the shards of plaster climbing up the walls and directing the gaze upwards. The upwards drift of a series of ghostly imprints on gauze serves to underscore this effect.

Both artists have written texts to accompany their respective exhibitions. Lavender’s is a personal reflection on time and memory, asserting that “this is not an activity in nostalgia” while at the same time questioning the authenticity and accuracy of the memories he looks to for guidance. The uncertainty expressed in the text echoes that of the wall drawings, which also give the appearance of having been transformed by time, tracing origins that remain hazy at best. By way of contrast, Masding’s text adopts the structure and strategies of encyclopaedias and dictionaries, seeking to describe and define while at the same time taking enormous, playful pleasure in the materiality and malleability of language. Through her words, we gain insight into the processes by which her objects were made, and also into the nature of the materials she uses in all their various states — from lollop to smush, sheetness to shudder, buffery text to elusive thing.

Jack Lavender’s ‘Stones’ is showing at Recent Activity until 22 July 2017.

Joanne Masding’s ‘Plaster Ghost Finger Cast’ is showing at New Art Gallery Walsall until 30 July 2017.

Jack Lavender
Joanne Masding
Recent Activity
New Art Gallery

Image: Joanne Masding’s ‘Plaster Ghost Finger Cast’ at New Art Gallery Walsall (installation view).