Rosie Morris’ first major solo exhibition Circles of Slices of Spheres (Laing Art Gallery, 1 October – 8 January) is a totally immersive yet isolating installation on one of the first floor Edwardian galleries. The colossal paintings arc from the floor up the walls down two lengths of the room, curated perfectly to mirror the curvature of the ceiling. Drawing on the word Slices in the exhibition title, Morris’ wanted to draw attention to the fact that this space is an ‘intersection’ or portion of the rest of the gallery; even the rest of the world. I thought this was really well achieved – the contemporary installation is juxtaposed brilliantly with the adjacent room, which displays only 18th and 19th century art by male artists.
It was also an innovative way to transform an otherwise traditional gallery space; the swooping paintings undermined the rigid structure of the walls. Morris’ also wanted to underline that, despite the isolation of the gallery, it was still a ‘slice of a greater whole’, and thus the Edwardian paintings at either end of the room serve the purpose of reminding you this. I do, however, think had you been able to view the paintings totally 360°, the experience would have been overwhelming and thus even more successful.
Morris has expertly created an atmosphere through her work; the accompanying soundtrack by Sam Grant creates a subdued tone throughout the gallery. The hushed music I thought reflected perfectly with the pastel blues and pinks in the paintings.
I was very intrigued by the performance script scattered across the floor of the gallery. It was a list, instructing you to ‘examine the paint’, ‘consider the space’ or ‘notice areas which draw you in.’ The script went on to incorporate movement through the city, as well as rural landscape.
The part focusing on examination and wonder about the artwork really helped involve yourself thoroughly in the piece; when reading the script, there was no time for mobile phones or giggling with friends. You focus wholly on the words and their relation to the art, giving you space to make your own opinions.
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