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Domestic Bliss

Home Ornaments, 2002 - 5, Daphne Wright, mixed media, © the artist and courtesy of the artist and Frith Street Gallery.Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow, 8 March – 31 December 2020

When did the curator’s imperatives gain supremacy over the artist’s agenda? In the case of Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art, the current exhibition ‘Domestic Bliss’ is the brainchild of a creative in-house curator with no budget. Katie Bruce raids the gallery’s collection to produce an attractive and quirky show, albeit around fairly hackneyed themes of domesticity, feminism, colonialism, relationships and consumerism

Bruce says the catalyst for her thinking was Nicola L’s female Yellow Foot sofa, displayed here as a piece of domestic sculpture.
The gallery space is well segmented by sideboards, bookcases, and a fireplace and wash-basin drawn onto the wall, giving the impression of a domestic space and providing foils for the artworks a.k.a. ornaments – Daphne Wright’s Home Ornaments and Grayson Perry’s Growing Up as a Boy vase, among others.

I liked the juxtaposition between Alasdair Gray’s social realism painted portraits and Nick Waplington’s photograph of a family in a council house, displayed above the fireplace. The photograph captures the moment when a baby on its mother’s lap drools milk onto the carpet. It would be voyeuristic but for the humour. Moreover the spare furnishings of the photographed home confound expectations of the type of opulent portrait usually found above a classical fireplace.
The surreal recordings created by Sian Robinson Davies of improbable conversations between inanimate objects – a pound coin and ice cream, a kettle and a dictionary – humorously illustrate our faltering attempts to understand and communicate
If your aim in seeing an exhibition is to be amused, gently challenged, and have your perceptions sharpened, then this exhibition is for you. I enjoyed it.

Victoria Howard

Volume 34 no 1 September – October 2019 p 28

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