Review: Claire Dorsett – ‘Too Expensive’ at A Small View

Detail of 'Too Expensive' by Claire Dorsett
Detail of 'Too Expensive' by Claire Dorsett

Claire Dorsett – Too Expensive

at A Small View. Saturday 21 November – Saturday 19 December 2015

Words by Patrick Kirk-Smith. Photograph by artinliverpool.

Too Expensive is a playful response to a lot of questions. Claire Dorsett’s exhibition is another great reaction to A Small View’s limited square footage, sticking boldly to minimal displays and well told stories.

What is most interesting is Dorsett’s ability to tell a story employing only the complete minimum. She uses assured lines and colours that help tell the story, elevating this to something far beyond colour composition work. There is an entire narrative squeezed into this big purple square, and it is brave and funny and gets better as you get to know it. The story revolves around a dinner with her brother, some lamp shades and the colour purple. So it’s hardly Tolkien, but it is part of her fascination with the idiosyncrasies life throws her way, and it is rare to find a story so simple.

It’s a show that again expresses the value A Small View brings to Liverpool, as a small independent venue, trying new things, and introducing artists to the city who otherwise might not have exhibited here. This exhibition was turned around in less than a month, and it really has that energy, which has to be attributed to the artist firstly but the gallery deserves a lot of credit in that decision. It is a straightforward, confident exhibition that pushes the boundaries of the gallery, the artist and their diaries.

Confidence, it seems to me, is something Claire Dorsett has in droves already. It has simply grown at an accelerated rate as a result of this exhibition. This is conveyed to the audience through colour. Purple in this case. A lot of purple.

This fascination though, follows on from how she finds her narratives, in the happenstances we miss in daily life. She said of the colour: “I wanted to use purple because it was a colour I hadn’t really worked with. Ideas for colour (for me) mostly come from seemingly insignificant things, such as the colour of a new pen I’ve got a bit obsessed with or a jumper or something small and idiosyncratic like that.”

It is a storyteller’s charm that holds this exhibition up more than anything else, graphically underpinning what, for all we know, could have been one of the dullest evenings of the artist’s life. But here we have that evening captured, solidified and commemorated in a way that probably would never have happened without the input of A Small View’s space. It is a coincidental moment, as the result of a coincidental request, and the narrative we are granted access too would have been lost to memory if not for this exhibition, no matter how insignificant. So for that, Claire Dorsett’s brother has a lot to thank this artist-gallery collaboration for.

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