Average Goods - An Exhibition by Glasgow Staff

by Cass Art

Encompassing an eclectic range of sculpture, installation, painting, drawing and photography, Average Goods is an exhibition created and curated by the staff of Cass Art Glasgow.

The Art Space, located above the racks of paint, canvas and clay, invites visitors to step beyond the shop floor to see the range of Cass Art materials realised in an array of creative practices. With the show now open to the public, we ventured to Glasgow to find out a little more about what makes our artists in residence tick.

Entering the Art Space we are instantly drawn to the cool blue windows, dappled with colour and brightened with contrasting drops of amorphous orange. Solid wedges of black and white anchor the sea of colour, whilst drawing connotations to artefacts exhumed by the sea. Showing work in this kind of context is something entirely new to glass artist Lauren Orsi, whose work often suits a more practical purpose than its ethereal aesthetic might suggest.

Whether it’s as commonplace as a paperweight or as everyday as a soap dish, Lauren’s imagination always runs ahead of the quotidian. Often drawing upon the changing seasons for inspiration, she allows the unpredictability of fusing dichroic glass to direct her practice. “I try to find reactions in the glass that causes something different” she explains, “It’s all about trial and error.”

Positioning herself about as far from the monotony of the mass-produced as possible, each of Lauren’s hand-crafted works embody a unique and individual character. Her work in Average Goods is one of a kind: there’s nothing else here quite like it.

Lauren Orsi - Untitled, Glassware, Dimensions Variable, 2016

Whilst captivated in the tranquillity of Lauren’s glass, we succumb to the screams for attention echoing from the opposing end of the room.

Like an adrenalised Club Kid that’s accidentally stumbled into the Art Space in drunken stupor, smeared with neon and spouting inconceivable lyrics from a song only vaguely recognisable, Matthew Bainbridge’s work is a spectacle that commands your attention.

Matthew Bainbridge - I Do Nothing But Think Of You, Oil, Acrylic and Spray Paint on Canvas,140x100cm and Acrylic Wall Drawing, Dimensions Variable, 2016

I Do Nothing But Think Of You is an unabashed exercise in indulgence, with thick lashings of saturated colour violently strewn across wild gestures of purposely messy brushwork. Its surface is as packed, awkward and difficult to navigate, a likened experience to a crowded nightclub during Freshers Week. As the initial paint-heavy high wears off, the second, more subdued component of the work comes to the forefront. Meticulously hand drawn, a mural of hundreds of monochromatic triangles brings a contrasting sensibility to our attention. Regimented in grid formation, this hulking mass of hard-edged lines is an armature for logical thought against a cacophony of noise.

“My intention is to encourage the viewer to familiarise themselves with their own processes of making sense of art - specifically painting” explains Matthew, “I want them to obsess over deeper meaning, by providing them with a work filled with so many conflicting styles of mark making that all carry such art historical prestige, my own anxieties as a maker are sublimated into their confusion and I’m back to being the smart one again, it’s the inherent selfishness of the work that interests me most, it encourages us to question the necessity of expert knowledge when thinking about painting.”

Although this particular work might leave you with what feels a bit like a two-day hangover that’s refusing to subside, there’s seldom better time for self-reflection. 

At the opposite end of the fun-scale with prints as playful and effervescent as they areboldly colourful, illustrator Max Machen injects Average Goods with a hefty dose of yes-nonsense fun.  

“‘I like to create elements of surprise within my work by playing with scale” says Max, whose intentions become clear as we observe a giant-sized man passing dollhouse-sized furniture through a tiny window in Moving Flats. This oversized humour reappears as a miniature scuba-diver explores the depths of a French press full of coffee in his second piece,

Significant influences in Max’s prints are drawn from French graphic artists, such as Herve Moran and Raymond Savignac. His prints search for the whimsy in our everyday interactions with the objects around us. Through animating life’s little pleasures with bold colour and cheery gusto, he instils his work with the same spritely mischievousness as traditionally illustrated Eastern-European children’s books. These prints occupy a specific niche within Average Goods, if an overweight circus performer precariously balancing on a tightrope doesn’t put a smile on your face, you’re doing life wrong.

Max Machen - Circus Acrobato, Screenprint, 21x30cm, 2016

As bizarre a conglomerate as Average Goods may initially appear, it manages to radiate a confident, often surprising harmony. Further works lay waiting to be explored, pondered and poured-over by visitors to the Art Space; from salt and clay filled road sacks to psychedelic, pseudoscientific close ups of iron filings – there is no shortage of things to experience here.

Average Goods - Installation View

Average Goods runs until Saturday 12th March in the Art Space at Cass Art Glasgow.

Exhibiting artists include Lewis Borthwick, Laura Thomson, Kirstin Ross, Annie Sweeney, Leun Gwynne, Leigh Donnelly and Emma McGarvey.


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