Review: Joseph & Ivy Hulme at Surtsey Projects

Joseph & Ivy Hulme at Surtsey Projects, 2016

Joseph & Ivy Hulme: A Tremendous Blunder
Surstey Projects
, Friday 9th December 2016

Words, Patrick Kirk-Smith

As an artist, have you ever hit the wall and wondered where your next bit of inspiration will come from? Of course you have. Have you ever thought that inspiration might come from an action camera mounted to your dog? No, me either.

Joseph and Ivy Hulme, the artists behind this brief exhibition, displayed a strangely affecting selection of work of and about, what I assume was, their dog. The only information given before the exhibition was a short, touching, text describing a King Charles spaniel’s longing for a human connection.

Text: ‘The instinctive response was a bark, but she chose to resist. That moment, her importance of reality shifted. She no longer wanted to passively be looked after, she wanted to look after, to have control, to be free. Sure she could bark, but she longed to talk, for she wished to communicate with me as she did fluently with her friends.’

The theme of control connected to something else though. It humanised the dog. Made it an understandable emotion.

Surtsey, the second new gallery in as many years to pop up in Gostins Arcade is helping to solidify the importance of independent creativity in the epicentre of the city. Less than a minute’s walk from Liverpool ONE Bus Station, the project space looks out onto Hanover Street from above Bluecoat Books. It’s an incredible location for its three curators, Lily Mellor, Laura Rushton and Devon Forrester-Jones.

The three artists and curators developed together as Liverpool Biennial Mediators and seem to have taken one thing in particular from that experience; focus on the production. Whether you take Koki Tanaka’s protest or Lara Favaretto’s fund raising monolith in the Welsh Streets, the Biennial has been taking production very seriously as an active part of their programme. Surtsey, as a project space, have a great starting point to focus on as they continue to share their gallery with visiting artists.

Joseph is part of team behind CBS, a studio based in Victoria Street’s iconic Crown Buildings. I’ve not visited their exhibitions nearly enough, but this one had a similar tone. An exhibition that takes personal ideas and internal dialogues and puts them in public focus. Far from the social change being instigated in larger galleries around the cities, this exhibition remembers the importance of asking the small questions, and taking time to enjoy making art.

The only shame is how fleeting the exhibition was, so keep an eye out for their next event and make sure you don’t let it pass by.