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3 June 2012

They're bouncy, trouncy, flouncy, pouncy fun, fun, fun, fun, fun....

But the most wonderful thing about inflatable, site specific sculptures in a glove factory isss...that this is the only one!

Yippie! Weeee! So exciting! Who says art cannot be fun anymore?....Something I know that, at least in my own work of late, has (uncharacteristically for me) been lacking. But enough of all that, let's go loose ourselves and have a bounce on a giant inflatable glove in, what has been a very contemporarily transformed ex-glove factory in Yeovil! Boing!

Forgive me, when it isn't all about the bouncing there is actually much good to be said and insight to be gleaned from this very different exhibition. Titled 'One to Twenty' and created by Barber Swindells (a collaborative artist partnership between artists Claire Barber and Steve Swindells) the exhibition is set and was created in response to a pair of Fireman's gloves from Southcombe Brothers of Stoke-sub-Hamdon. The history and context of the Glove Factory in Yeovil and its archive of gloves, cutters, materials and lived experiences of the people who worked there made an excellent resource and opportunity to expand the idea of taking the Fireman's gloves and engage in Yeovil's 160 years of glove making history in a way that, I think is both celebrating it and preserving it. 

Eat you heart out Claes Oldenburg! This inflatable glove has a 1:20 ratio and is over 13metres long! I personally liked the way it squashed up against the (comparatively) small space of what was the original glove factory, whilst being contained it was also seemingly trying to burst its way out of the windows and be noticed. It should be too, because whilst it is all too seductive to get caught up in the spectacle of what is essentially a giant sophisticated bouncy castle in a large room, I equally enjoyed looking over all the gloves and cutters and scraps of leather that told the story of how this place was used. I mean, 'I never knew Yeovil was known for glove making?' and 'What's so special about gloves anyway?' Well, coming from someone that draws hammers and saws all day I don't need much convincing in the latter question, but at the same time, it is for that reason that I KNOW other people should know or should be invited to stop and think about gloves, hammers, saws once in a while. As objects, how they are made and how they are then used has a lot to say about us as people, individuals and as a society. Particularly gloves. How we use our hands, and how gloves are a second skin, to either protect or to allure as a fashion statement. The images below show some of the artefacts that were in the exhibition alongside the Fireman's glove. I liked the contrast from the playfulness and loudness of the inflatable glove to the thoughtful and reflective nature of the artefacts room then particularly noticing how the green leather offcuts from the glove making process where used on the inflatable piece and how the significance of the amount of skill and detailed engineering that goes into say, making a 'life size' glove has then been translated into a much larger version that still requires a sizable amount of engineering as well. Making a 20 times larger version of anything can be no small feat.

Art should not be about preaching to the converted all of the time, if any of the time! So, in my mind it is all too important to have work like this which is both engaging on an excitement level and on a thought provoking one. Which is not to say all art has to be 'singing, dancing and entertaining' or even a dumbing down, but I think there is something in the spectacle of being to create something that has never been seen before as a way of communicating a message-it doesn't have to be big and bold, sometimes it can be quiet and unassuming, but the things that work best are always the ones that have that sense of wonder that ignite curiosity and beckon you to come closer and find out what they have to say (although I am very aware it is a subjective thing). If all art could do that then we wouldn't need to be worried about preaching to the converted because we would all already be converted.

This was the most fun art installation I'd been to (on) since the Cartsen Holler 'slide' at the Tate Modern. Except I was never sure there was much substance to that other than, 'slides are fun and can be beautiful too' whereas this exhibition certainly did not lack substance in fact it could be seen everywhere, I was jumping right on top of it!

Check it out!
Launch Date: 8th June 6-8pm, Foundry House, Glove Factory, Yeovil
Exhibition Date: 30th May - 10th June (Free admission, Booking essential: 01458 253800 Closed 2nd - 5th June
Please visit the link below for more details:

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