Venue: Bar Lane Studios
Rating: 5 stars
It’s January and I most certainly have the post-Christmas blues. My fingers are numb with cold; I’m on the classic New Year I-will-only-eat-vegetables diet; I’ve signed up to a gym membership that I will probably won’t use beyond February; and I almost wept at my last bank statement. So nothing sounded more fitting than Bar Lane Studio’s ‘Aftermath exhibition’ about ‘a typical January, looking at the stereotypical concept of diets, not having any money and sales shopping’. And all for free!
Bar Lane Studios is an excellent and quirky space, providing a nice arty get-away from shopping in the centre – especially when it’s sale season. I wasn’t too sure what to expect from this exhibition but I was pleasantly surprised by its variety. Following on from the opening event ‘Chalksville’ on Saturday 12th January is a yard sale hosted by Chalky the Yorkie. Wandering around the studio with a cup of tea, changing the records, Chalky explained that it is an attempt to downsize. The sale is as much an exhibition as the art on the walls, showcasing an impressive selection of vinyl, including French EPs, along with pottery and clothing made by the artist.
Chalky’s work dominates the studio, and while a lot of it is not fitting with the post-Christmas theme it doesn’t really seem to matter. In particular, his series of paintings inspired by images from the Hubble Telescope are well worth a visit. If anything, his effort to sell off a culmination of work and bits and bobs – if not Christmas-themed – embodies the spirit of the January purge.
The works specific to the theme are light-hearted and entertaining. Jade Blood’s wall drape stating ‘Merry Xmas Fatties’ nicely summaries how most of us feel about our festive figures, and comes with an ‘it’s a joke’ disclaimer in case it hits a little too close to home for anyone self-conscious about their over-indulgence. Her work is tinged with cynicism, featuring pieces such as ‘Mini-Break For One’ along with a Christmas tree decorated with a black bag over the top and the words ‘You Left Me’. It speaks to both those with a year-round grudge against Christmas and those betrayed by the brevity of the excitement.
My personal favourite is the collection of hilarious photos of Santa with rather upset children. ‘12 days of Christmas’ by Steve Humble has had mixed reactions, flipping the joy of visiting the Grotto on its head with some inappropriate looking Santa’s along with a terrifying Donnie Darko-esque Rabbit/Grinch image. Printed on standard paper and blue-tacked to the wall, the piece is simple, bringing home the hilarity of Christmas and the dark undertones of sitting your children on a stranger’s lap.
Finally, Sophie Polyviou’s ‘Fake Tan Salon’ brings back the hope of summer as the snow falls outside. An open submission project featuring Polaroid and photographs, Polyviou describes the piece as ‘an exhibition of second hand sunshine to wash away those post Xmas doldrums’. It nicely captivates the switching mind-set of January as we replace Christmas cheer with anticipation of summer sun – hence the gym membership!
A varied and unusual exhibition, ‘The Aftermath Exhibition’ is well-worth the venture to the top of Micklegate. It provides a refreshing insight into the post-Christmas blues that are synonymous with January and you even get to do some vintage shopping alongside the art.