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[Re]charge [Ex]change

Tuesday 2 – Saturday 27 July | East Gallery

This exhibition considers clay in its simplest form

[Re]charge [Ex]change will be staged at East Gallery from Tuesday 2 to Saturday 27 July, with Brett present and working in the space each Friday (5th, 12th, 19th, and 26th).

We invite visitors to reflect on each stage of making and to interact with the artist when he is present.

Closing event

There will be a closing event for this project on Saturday 27 July, 12-2pm.

Free refreshments will be served and all are welcome.

About the exhibition

It is easy to be too far sighted when considering clay, to move too quickly from material to product, to perhaps visualize the polished or burnished, weighty or fragile, hardened object and to see it as the goal. In fact, artists are often praised for their ability to wield a material in such a way that it defies its natural qualities, celebrated for their heavy-handed manipulation, a process which relegates the journey with clay to mere methodology. 

Desmond Brett celebrates the ‘ontologically unstable’ nature of clay (Groom, 2004). As he works, he listens to the material, resisting the temptation to manipulate the matter into one identifiable form or another and leaning into a process of haptic modelling. He also champions the material for its ability to be reworked in an almost never-ending cycle.

What you see in the gallery is approximately two tons of clay from a number of sources. It is not new but a mix of material which has been repurposed from other projects containing the remnants of other sculptures after they are cast, now returned to a slurry to be reused again. In this manner, Brett’s touch recharges the material. No sooner is an end point found then the form is collapsed and remade into another arrangement. In this process the clay holds its own dignity as a natural entity and Brett uses his own physicality to relate to it, one organic thing to another. It is a process of manufacture in a creative partnership. [Re]charge [Ex]change represents a new venture for Brett in performance as the artist challenges his making habits by starting afresh each Friday for the duration of the exhibition. Brett will use these occasions to present the embodied process of his making to one, or multiple, ends.

The repository of clay will be transformed during the month, allowing visitors a rare chance to see the material develop into the sculptural form, a process which is often conducted behind closed doors. From day-to-day, the clay will be kept ‘alive’ with a refresh of water applied by the East Gallery Assistants and visitors. Brett’s actions each Friday will be recorded by a time-lapse camera, creating a record of the exchange which will be presented on the television in the space as the process unfolds. Each piece created by the artist which is not reabsorbed into the clay-mass will be cast at the very end of the exhibition.

A number of sculptures created by Brett over the last few years are also displayed in the gallery. The large forms sit in a deliberately awkward manner asking the viewer to manipulate their body to adequately behold them. The works jut into the space, filling the voids of the gallery. Each piece has a presence and holds its space as would another person, standing, leaning or sitting, commanding its own boundary, and asking you to consider your own.

Get in touch

Opening times:
Tuesday – Friday 12–5pm, Saturday 12–4pm
Admission free

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