A Review of Museum Sheffield’s Going Public exhibition, displaying across the city in a variety of venues. The ‘Going Public’ exhibition features international collections of some of the best contemporary fine art, sculpture’s and installations that would normally be found in London and major art galleries worldwide. The Going Public Exhibition will be available from 16th September – 13th December 2015.
Before reading, please understand I have no knowledge of these artists, the pieces of art, their history or the context. I am simply expressing my interpretation and experience of visiting the gallery, much like anyone else would. Any assumptions or interpretations could be way off, but hopefully I’ve managed to understand the artists intent, despite any ambiguity or my lack of knowledge. Thanks.
The first location of the Going Public exhibition and this review is the Millennium Gallery’s space showcasing The Cattelain Collection.
As you reach the entrance of the Millennium gallery you’re confronted with a large green structure with an entrance and a clear path through, Do Ho Suh (b.1962) ‘ Wielandstr ‘ (2011) installation is a recreation of a section of a (their?) house, “18, 12159, Berlin.” The surfaces are delicately crafted and stitched from a green polyester material, almost a fine net-like fabric which is supported by a metal frame, helping to create the overall shape of the structure. Starting from the outside looking in getting a grasp of the scale and layers to the installation, though having a bauhaus-esque exterior it’s design is purely the details recreated inside that create this unusual shape, with the transparency of the walls due to it’s net-like surface you can see what appears to be two hallways, one inside the other. Walking through the front entrance you get close up to the details, made up entirely of shape’s of objects of interest that once dwelled in the hallway, the fine details of a three-dimensional wall-phone complete with stitching buttons and a fabric cord. Travelling through you see an old cabinet space above the hallway, with a wood door, stitched out of green fabric. The hallway has two doors including a highly decorated front door with numerous locks and latches, skirting boards, pieces of pipe sticking out of the wall into the floor, the empty space of hinge’s that a door may once have stood, a keyhole in a storage cupboard, lighting and their switches, sockets and other typical objects that can be found on walls and ceilings.
Do Ho Suh had an intimate relationship with this hallway, seeing it everyday, learning it’s character and creating this stunning installation that requires you look closely and in every direction, especially above you to understand the space as well as the artist’s viewpoint. The intricate details stitched into objects help build the identity instead of it remaining as a simple shape, with the front door being the defining part of the installation, and indeed the most important part of any house leading into a hallway. It’s wire-frame aesthetic could be based on the idea of computer graphics, with the accessibility of knowledge and popularity in the modern age of the internet, it certainly could have provided a starting point for this wonderful installation.
“ ‘Monument’ for V. Tatlin ” is a sculpture (1969-70) by Dan Flavin (1933-1996) created out of fluorescent tubes and mounted on metal with their connectors and brightly lit. The sculpture is made from 7 vertical fluorescent tubes of various lengths with a symmetrical design with the central tube being the tallest, becoming narrow with the tubes creating a vague rocket shape as only the three central tubes meet the floor. Despite being brightly lit it’s easy to look at, it’s 3 inch deep metal mount helps create a small spread of light to the sides, including a bold shadow around the lighting helps create more form and expression. The sculpture stands 7ft tall, and with the title of the piece specifically being ‘Monument’ with expression marks, adds either sense of ambiguity, or is for someone relatively under-appreciated, but still creates an aesthetically pleasing modernist sculpture.
Fred Sandback’s (1943-2003) untitled sculpture leans against the gallery wall, 4 thin copper-coloured steel wire elements shaped identically sit equal distance apart, each crafted from a single wire rod creating the illusion of three-dimensional rectangles by using the negative space of the sculpture to suggest the form. The wire creates the outline of only two edges of a 3D rectangle, one long edge and it’s base. Moving around the sculpture is necessary to get the effect, as viewing head on, or from the side looses it’s 3D element, the viewing angles from these two ‘blind spots’ all seem to be good at creating the 3D effect. The lighting adds an interesting element to the sculpture, with the source’s from the upper left creating multiple shadows adding a skewed look (when focusing on the shadows (of)) the illusion, though it isn’t obvious that lighting is supposed to give this effect. And interesting piece that’s fun to walk around.
To the left, the wall is dominated by a huge set of panels, Francois Morellet’s (b.1926) painting known simply as: 49 Panneaux Permutables, 1 double trame 0° -1 trame simple 45°. This large painting is made up of 8×8 white wooden panels mounted with magnets on metal, with an 8×8 graph paper style grid painted on in neat thick black lines. The painting is dominated by a series of thick black diagonal parallel lines coming into the image from the top and bottom, collectively creating three rectangle-like forms to the central left of the image, and single parallel diagonal lines to the right. The large geometric image is very mathematical and dominating, interestingly where the diagonal lines and the graph lines intersect, little bright squares seemed to pop out, intentional or just my experience? A very large name, with an even larger artwork, (assumingly) it describes itself precisely as it’s very mathematical in structure, though understanding it’s construction in relation to it’s title would most likely baffle any non-mathematical brain, though the painting does leave the viewer wanting to see more of the outward image, for a better understanding and the pleasantry of seeing geometric art with our primitive brains.
To the far-centre of the room sits two 3D rectangles crafted simply as a frame of each shape in aluminium with a baked white enamel finish. “Serial Project #1 A6” (1967) by Sol LeWitt (1928-2007) The largest shape sits flat to the ground on it’s squarish end, the opposite side both been the largest area of this shape, with a 3ft high corner struts creating a narrow edge. The second shape sits in the middle, upright, with it’s small square base and top, with tall corners making it similar dimensions to a phone box. With a large negative space in between the shapes, the interaction comes by viewing at different angles around the sculpture, as the frames of the outer shape cross over your view with the inner upright frame, both painted white and well lit create almost new geometric formations as you move around, viewing through the sculpture. The strength of shadows from multiple light sources also add a strong dimension, as they add more dynamic display of the frames crossing over each other, but in a contrasting dark shadow. It’s a bold and simple sculpture with minimal design elements which means the user must create there own experience, though it’s unclear whether or not it’s obvious of the two shapes’ interaction and the shadow’s additional value it gives the sculpture, or it’s just my interpretation.
On the wall behind, the next artwork literally looks conceptual. Stefan Bruggeman’s (b. 1975) piece ‘Looks Conceptual’ is on a large white wall at the back of the gallery and the words ‘LOOKS CONCEPTUAL’ in a bold, black vinyl-print in a roughly 1ft tall font. The word LOOKS sits above CONCEPTUAL aligned to the left, the font is modern, clean and crisp with a good wideness and roundness to the letters. It’s the kind of font you might see on a large advertisement, or in a gallery advertising an exhibition or gallery space – which is most likely the irony of the piece, as it completely blends into the space and you might not realise it’s actually part of the exhibition. It would be interesting to know more about this piece and where it’s been located in the past, to see how, if correct, the irony has been portrayed relating to the space. I’ve spent quite a while in the gallery, and can honestly say I don’t think I’ve seen anyone notice, or remark on the piece.
To the left on the last wall of this space is a series of photographs named ‘Candlestick Point’ (1989) by Lewis Baltz (1945-2014) – the photographs are close to A4 sized, framed and all landscape orientation. They’re hung on the wall in columns of six, and nineteen photo’s in each row, however each having less than nineteen photos, with negative space’s remaining – is this intentional to the layout, sold individual photos? It could even be photo’s that didn’t develop and were purposely left out for continuity.
The photos are of a disused plot of land, with subjects like a series of trees on an empty plot, piles of soil and domestic or building site waste, and what looks like a housing estate in the background. Judging by the series of photographs there seems to be some narrative to the layout. Often parts of the row look like a panorama, or of a similar theme, or photos of the same area of Candlestick Point all bunched together. The photo’s are fairly simple on their own and seem to follow a rule where the horizon fills the bottom 1/3rd of the image and the pale dull sky the other 2/3rds, with the various subjects overlapping in the centre. Interestingly all the photos are black and white except for the bottom row, which is in colour. If you stand back you see that the bottom row and it’s dull orange coloured soil acts as a horizon for the entire display, with the pale sky going up into the black and white photos which in this case, would represent the rest of the sky. The series of photo’s suggest that the location ‘Candlestick Point’ might be an old housing estate that’s been knocked down for redevelopment, with the area possibly having significance to the artist.
Anthony McCall’s (b.1946) ‘Meeting you Halfway II’ (2009)
The final piece is a dark entrance on the far facing wall, you zig-zag through a black hallway made to stop light from leaking into the installation space. You’re greeted with a large open space of which a projector beams light onto the opposite wall. Anthony McCall’s (b.1946) ‘Meeting you Halfway II’ (2009) is a digital light installation with a projector creating two white Bezier Curves which change angle and rotate on a black (wall) background.
With the room so black, the projected light starts to take form, the white bezier curves create an outline to the lighting, giving it a physical looking edge, also in the room you can smell the faint presence of smoke, along with a hum. The last element of the room is a smoke machine slowly pumping straight into the source of the light beam, the overall effect is adding a solidity to the light, creating a thickness with the light from the bezier curves.
Though, the best way to view this effect isn’t from the outside, but in-fact from inside the beam of light, facing the projector itself. You’re suddenly inside a mysterious tunnel going far into the distance to the light source, the walls are thick and smoky which you’ll want to try and touch. The magnificent use of light and smoke creates a fantastic display that almost everyone I saw enjoyed it, though some other’s just created shadow puppets in the light then left…
This exhibit was one of the strongest I’ve seen at the Millennium Gallery, a high quality of installation and sculpture, it’s a fantastic experience to be had by any art lover, or even an old or young learner of the arts. The exhibition is available until the 13th December and it’s highly recommended you visit.
For more information on the Going Public exhibition, you can visit
For more about Nicolas Cattelain, you can read THIS article about him, you can also see a specific interview with Nicholas Cattelain, as part of the Going Public Exhibition below.