ExtraOrdinary Quotidian: Exhibition review

ExtraOrdinary Quotidian

Originally published by The Upcoming 24 January 2014.

ExtraOrdinary Quotidian is an all-female multi-artist exhibition on display at Leyden Gallery, East London’s latest addition to its already burgeoning gallery scene. As the title suggests, the show is concerned with both the ridiculous and the sublime of everyday mundanities. For an-female exhibition to tackle a theme so tied up in domesticity and the home may seem a little clichéd, but ExtraOrdinary Quotidian carries it off without ever seeming trite.

Hilary Ellis’s collection of canvasses embellished with haberdashery are unremarkable on first glance, with a muted, understated palette and minute detailing. But on closer inspection, they are really quite enchanting, characterised by simplicity and seeming repetition, with all the precision of a knock-off factory. They appear uniform but in fact have subtle idiosyncrasies – thousands of ever so slightly off-kilter needle pricks, occasionally conjoined with red thread. It’s as if Ellis is stitching a parallel between the traditional domestic labour carried out by women and the newer advent of their preponderance as sweatshop workers. Both forms of work are underpaid, underappreciated and still disproportionately carried out by poor women, who shoulder the brunt of rampant neoliberalism the world over.

Electra Costa’s eerie pastel works on blackboards invert a typical palette, giving them the effect of undeveloped negatives. This inversion mimics the subject matter of childlike innocence which has disturbingly become something unsettling and sinister. A doll-like girl with blacked out pupils rests on her father’s chest, or is it a headless corpse? A young girl on a swing looks world-weary beyond her meagre years. Perhaps Costa is suggesting our society is too quick to rob its children of their naivety.

Evanthia Afstralou’s Vivaldi’s Spring stands out as the only piece of video art. A man flosses to Vivaldi’s inappropriately up-beat concerto. It starts off harmless and inane enough, the typical drudgery of daily routine, but quickly descends into insanity as bloody pours forth while the face stays smiling. Evidently the relentlessness of the everyday regime is both physically and metaphorically wearing the subject down.

Holly Wisker and Alison South show promise in their concepts without ever really delivering on execution: the former offering a series of drypoints entitled The Mould on the Bathroom Wall is More Productive and the latter with paintings based on found photographs of strangers.

The pieces just about manage to hang together as a coherent exhibition, with each artist bringing their own unique take on the deceptive banality of the everyday. Definitely worth a visit.

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