Please Do Touch
6th - 31st December 2015
Last year I found myself at several exhibitions, which made some claim to be multisensory. In practice most of the work was in splendid isolation: under glass, out of reach, surrounded by stern warnings to keep one’s paws to oneself. As a conservator I am well aware of all the excellent reasons why repeated touching of an object is potentially a very bad idea.
Sight, if you have it, is the most overwhelming point of contact with the world, the most immediately convincing, even though it is not always the first; sound and scent often precede it.
But if sight is so powerful, why should such warnings be needed in what is predominantly a visual display? There are, of course, many reasons, but let me approach this from my perspective as a maker. You can’t, as yet, make things by just looking. You have to use your hands, choose materials, and feel them become something beyond what can be seen. Touch is intrinsic to the process and must, I think, be an intrinsic part of experiencing the physical world. This isn’t just true of art. By a certain age we train ourselves out of putting the world in our mouths, but the instinct remains: I can’t truly be sure what this is until I can feel it with my body. Just looking is a compromise.
Not that everything this show has been made to be exceptionally exciting to touch. Rather, it is that everything is exciting to touch, and this includes paper, print and paint. Someone in Australia was once caught, in a major museum, licking a painting. Ordinarily it would be my job to stop them, though part of me completely understands why they did it. All the work in this show can be touched, so please do, though perhaps ask before licking – for your own sake as much as the object’s.
Participating Artists: Natalie d’Arbeloff, Andrzej Maria Borkowski, Charles Boyle, Martina Evans, Katy Evans Bush , Dan Goner, Pawel Kordaczka, Natasha Lohan, Kit Redstone, Christopher Reid, Piotr Rosinski, Elzbieta Smolenska, Danuta Solowiej, Almuth Tebbenhoff, Clarissa Upchurch, Carina Waggenar, Pawel Wasek, Helen Wilks, Natalia Zagorska-Thomas