Col Fay at the Art School Gallery

by Nick Duval-Smith

I went to two openings yesterday, Sur[face] by Col Fay and The Heat of Winter by Michael Harrison. I’d been meaning to get down to the Art School Gallery for quite a while, and a Col Fay show was a perfect motivation.
I’d always enjoyed my conversations with Col, while I was studying at the Art School in 2007 and 2008. The way we manifested our work was different, but our talking and thinking had lots of overlaps and intersections. So I looked forward to seeing what she’d been up to, and how she would present her Masters.
Initially I went into the hall towards where I thought the main entrance was, but found a sign directing me to another door, off the carpark. Back outside, then in: I was confronted with a big, almost empty white space, spot lit and occupied only by a small room clad in mirror. I went into the smaller space and found the interior painted with blackboard paint, things about the meeting points between jewellery and people and architecture chalked on there. A little box dispensed stickers that were like wee ads. Sitting on top of the box was a small heat formed plastic thing that seemed vaguely medical to me; clinical and yet organic, it could almost have been some kind of replacement for a dysfunctional organ, or part thereof.
And I felt I was missing something, not quite an organ but… a glass of wine perhaps, and a word in the ear of the maker. Luckily, another punter directed me to the social aspect of the event, back out again and into the hall (I was early, typically trying to squeeze too much into one evening, so things became more obvious for others later). Glass and Col acquired, we returned, and Col showed me that the pools of light were actually projecting text, much more visible when on a person. Aha! Plus, one of the projections was to be seen in the mirror (see image below). Suddenly, the whole thing became much more interesting.
Slowly the space filled with people, discovering the work by standing in the way of the light, or casting collective shadows on the floor. I really dug the way the work required this social interaction, so that these relationships, whether intimate or fleeting, were what made the work readable. And at that point, being worn or visible in our shadows, these sentences fruited into jewellery.
So this work, which at first appeared cool and disembodied, became fun and chatty and exciting as it was completed by its audience. See it with friends.

Col_fay_surface_002Col_fay_surface_001Col_fay_surface_003Col_fay_surface_005Col_fay_surface_004

Sorry about the blurry photographs. Luckily, Emily Hlavac Greeen will be doing a much better job soon.Thanks to Bridie Lonie for agreeing to be photographed and published, and my apologies to the other person. If you are him, or can tell me who he is, I’d appeciate being able to ask his permission too.

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