Thursday, November 02, 2006

Say It With Flowers

Do you ever feel you are being bombarded with too much information?, do the constant messages through your radio and television grate when you are being asked to think whether your hair is not sculpted enough?, are you not protecting your teeth from rotting with an inferior brand of toothpaste whilst troughing your burger and chips or multiple packets of crisps of every flavour and numerous bars of chocolate?
Is the slogan on your T shirt reflecting your true personality? Are your jeans the wrong shade of blue or are the rips in the wrong place? Should you change your footwear because they are out of season and what are the correct socks to wear with them? Do you have the right scent to pull the objects/s of your affection/s or will the person in question not even get close to you anyway because they spotted the wrong brand of underwear peeking over the top of your low slung waistband which their eyes were drawn to because your belt is the wrong thickness? Maybe you can entice them back with a nice meal at home but whose recipe book do you buy to cook from? Which supermarket can give you the cant lose dessert to melt their heart?. If you are successful and five years down the line what car should you buy to reflect the best facets of both your personalities?, Who will you book your holiday with for that romantic anniversary city break? When the kids come along what branded footwear are they begging for? What disgusting foodstuffs do they insist on munching to put them off your healthy family dinner? blah blah blah blah blah blah blah…………

If you have ever had these decision crises over the who, what, where with the multitude of advertising slamming into your eyes from every magazine, television screen, newspaper and billboard and now feel sick to your stomach at the thought of the multitude of crap that is firstly marketed at you, secondly bought by you in a moment of moral weakness and thirdly clogging up some landfill at the backside end of somewhere outside East London then you are only partly the way to understanding the ecological panic that Tracey Bush suffers. For some years Tracey has been trying to do her bit as a usual urban dweller in reducing the amount of toxic landfill nonsense that she personally contributes to the planet, Tracey’s art uses found objects and images, packaging, adverts, little bits of card and paper, in fact to put it impolitely, rubbish. Imagine her as a modern day human womble hoovering up paper and cardboard rubbish and turning it into art.
On Wednesday an exhibition of her latest work opened at the Clerkenwell Green Association on St John Square, in the small gallery space inside the Association’s Pennybank Chambers building are incredibly intricate, hand crafted sculptures and collaged drawings of wild flowers. Drawing parallels between our lost art of recognising the things that surround us in the natural world, in this case wild flowers, and our recognition of brands and branded goods. She is not so much pointing the finger at us for our blind consumption than to those that would bury us in marketing so deeply that we can recognise their products through a splash of colour, a font or a smiley faced familiar. On a series of collaged drawings the leaves of the plants do not show subtle shades of green and the petals of their flowers do not bear natural colour but the stark colours of brands and logos for airlines, chocolate bars, biscuits, washing powder, breakfast cereal, clothing, painkilling medicine, sweets, animated films, footwear and alcoholic drinks amongst many others. In bell jars the leaves and petals of these reconstructed sculptural models of plants show the familiar messages that turn our minds from the natural world to other more consumerist actions, one plant reminds us to have a smoke, a cup of tea or a take away coffee and then ‘Just Do It’, another displays an array of intricate flowers and leaves bearing such multitude of fizzy drinks, chocolate gloop, sugary sweets numerous other foods and drink that your liver might twitch in pain at the thought of the potential bombardment.

The scariest thing and the simple but important point that Tracey’s hand made facsimiles show us is that this recognition of logos, brands and products is inescapable, most of the packaging may be from products you hardly, if ever purchase but you can be sure that just a small glance at these wonderfully colourful, beautiful drawings and sculptures will fill your brain with a multitude of brands that you recognise, you may not have thought of these for some time but instantly the product or brand will be recalled, unfortunately the flowers may remain unrecognisable despite their distinct leaf shapes and sizes and the intricate detailing of their petal constructions. This is intricate, finely crafted and thought provoking work and don’t be fooled by the instant “I get it” factor, the work demands a longer look as nuances of observation take over. The exhibition is open until 25th November, Wednesdays to Saturdays, go and take a look, “Just Do It”.


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