Nigel Massey’s exhibition at Limbo, Margate, weaves together several strands of the artists’ work. Ideas around staging, props and theatre, both within the works themselves and the exhibition as a whole, mix with Massey’s exploration of material value and reference to specific manufacturing industries and processes. Lots of things are going on here. Tapestry screens, brick samples, lithographic prints, cast bronze, aluminium tape and found objects. “I see the show as a collection of works” says Massey, “that then formed a collection of cluster works that then formed an installed show. Each piece is made and resolved independently in the studio and stands alone. The installing process however breaks down this singular nature by offering up new alliances and orientations; swapping, swinging perhaps”
Tall Jacquard tapestry draped screens, haberdashery clad office dividers, cut the gallery space into two loose sections and allows the visitor to walk through the work rather than stand on the side lines. Other screens are placed on the floor as if discarded or waiting for something to happen. The tapestry itself has a pleasing saggy baggy quality, like an ill-fitting pair of 1970’s trousers. “I used textured textile in the form of corduroy not only to screen the space but also to dampen or baffle sound and create changes in atmosphere” says Massey, “I felt it was key to tackle as many of the senses as possible, in what is a hugely characterful setting. I let the space have its way olfactorily however”
Massey collaborates with both a mill in the North of England and his wife (“at the sewing machine”) in the production of these tapestry works. Collaboration with different industries is important to Massey and draws on his previous professional experience “(working) as a bronze caster has made me mindful of the dangers of high production-value manufacture and of the Medusa-like affect this may have on ideas” he comments on his website “I design objects to be fabricated then deconstruct and re-find their role—shedding light into the shadows between processes”. This results in a set like collection of objects where the viewer is never sure at what stage in the production one is encountering. And this is kind of fun. With a seemingly super serious ethos the resulting work is playful and seems to want the viewer to muck about and chuck it about a bit. There is some pop in the tapestry Scooby Doo bones attached to the MDF board and some nice Lissitzky or even Bauhausian moments in his lithographs.
The installation at Limbo itself, for Massey, also changed the nature of how he curated his own works and cluster works. “Over (the) two day installation period, it was necessary to break down all the pre-conceived notions of what the work 'was' by trying out the obvious options first, becoming despondent, sleeping on it, then dealing with the work in its new environment afresh. This was further complicated as the Limbo space has dramatic sources of natural and artificial light. A complication I welcomed however, as I had planned to respond to this with reflective surfaces on some work, and textured textile on other. I was really happy with how the show turned out, and with the support I received from Matthew de Pulford, and Charley, Lizzy and Sam – the team at Limbo”
‘Between Acts’ is open for the rest of this weekend and next (closes Sunday 24th May) and is well worth the trip to Margate. Get the train from St. Pancras International and make a day of it now the weather is pretty nice. Grayson Perry’s new exhibition ‘Provincial Punk’ actually opens from the 23rd May so next weekend would be perfect opportunity for a visit to both.
If you are terminally capital bound then Massey is also showing as part of the APT Creek Open 2015, selected by Lisa Milroy, in Deptford.