Part 1: The caves ( )
‘The cave with its pleasures, dangers and obligations’
[P.229, ‘Aku-Aku’, Thor Heyerdahl, Penguin Books, 1960]
In 1955 Thor Heyerdahl visited the Easter Islands, to find out the origins of the hundreds of giant statues which stood or lay around the island. Heyerdahl was keen to resolve their mysteries and to be the person who found the answers. How and why were they made? How were these massive, carved slabs of rock moved or erected? One islander tells him, ‘They went of themselves’ [P.87, Ibid], walking or indeed wriggling, as the statues had only heads and bodies but no legs. In his book ‘Aku-Aku’ (which has inspired this exhibition’s curator and artist, Belinda Gilbert Scott) Heyerdahl also describes in great detail all the caves on the island. There are secret caves, family caves, ‘taboo’ caves, treasure chambers or caves with specific purposes (Hyerdahl describes the virgin cave, where young women were kept from the sun for months on end, in order for their skin to whiten during their confinement). Pleasures and dangers co-exist – there is darkness, difficulty yet discovery. What are the obligations Heyerdahl refers to? There are roles for those who tend to and those who visit the caves. There is the wisdom of local custom and belief. There are the gods who must be pleased and not angered. Should visitors be respectful? Some dwell with the statues and the caves for a period, bringing different languages and freedoms. Their acts leave traces hidden under the layers.
It strikes me as I spend time in the galleries- looking at the artworks themselves, drawing them in notational form, considering methods of their making, ascribing relationships between the works, attributing meaning in their arrangements- that the rooms in the Lillie Gallery have become like a series of interconnected caves, all with their own particular, and often peculiar, atmosphere.
The first smaller room [Gallery 2] houses the work of methodological yet intuitive minds, where materials and objects have been re-found, re-purposed and re-ordered in new rhythms of enticing colour, shape and association. The second [Gallery 3] is a mysterious parlour of signs and patterns where some of the objects try to speak to the visitor whilst others hide behind shades. The third, [Gallery 1] the largest, is a very physical space or lair, where objects have been dragged and hauled to their positions, manipulated, stretched, played with, enclosed or hung. This room is most reminiscent of the body in a strange landscape. There are innards spilling out and parts that protrude or sag, spent. There are spaces for contemplation, for pleasure or even for violent emotion. This space is the location for ritual. The fourth room, the shop, is a treasure chamber. There is a glittering new bank of gifts made by strange hands, of brightly coloured bean bags, token adornments and squeezed statuettes. The Lillie has numerous private spaces – stores, offices, toilets – that fold off from this public sequence of caves. A final artwork will shift restlessly through various locations in the building to be found or encountered on a one-to-one basis.
All caves have a threshold, an invitation to be considered by each visitor to enter or resist. What lies at the threshold of the Lillie? This gigantic, FAB erect ice lolly is a totem from an innocent age, an enticing treat to be licked and savoured (or if on a diet, or too serious an adult, scorned). It is a visual feast of simple ocular and oral pleasure. Where will you begin? What is your method of eating it? Which band of fruity colour will you bite into? Your synapses snap with the desire created by anticipation. A coldness of textural sensation, instantaneous joy and promised hundreds and thousands crunch follows.
Part 2 : The offerings within ( )
Part 3: The performances and rituals ( )
These further parts will be issued during the exhibition life of ‘Bust Out’, a collaboration by a group of artists brought together by Belinda Gilbert Scott. Belinda Gilbert Scott, Rowan Mace, Valerie Norris, Pester and Rossi, Elin Anna Porisdottir. With Rae-Yen Song, Greer Pester and Sally Hackett. Lilllie Art Gallery, Milngavie, Glasgow, 8-25 April 2016. Supported by Glasgow International.