Strange World at Blackburn Gallery

Masked Police Car by Okamoto Mitsuhiro
Masked Police Car by Okamoto Mitsuhiro

We spent a very pleasant day in Blackburn last week. There’s no direct train from Liverpool so it takes a while to get there and back but it’s not too arduous and the weather was good.

We were here in January 2006 to see a large exhibition of contemporary Asian art from the Fukuoka Triennale which was spread across venues in the town. This show, ‘Strange World‘ is a much smaller event featuring just 7 artists in a couple of spaces within the Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery in the aptly named but well hidden Museum Street.

The first thing you notice as you enter the gallery is the car covered in a mask similar to a wrestlers mask but in police colours. This is by Japanese artist Okamoto Mitsuhiro and there is a video showing it being driven around the local streets.

The majority of the works are on the first floor but as you go up the stairs you pass under (or in my case brush your head against) some very nice hanging yellow textile pieces by another Japanese artist, Seiko Kinoshita.

In the first floor gallery there are Portable Cities by Yin Xiuzhen (China), these are cities in suitcases. They include sound but you may need to remind the gallery staff to turn it on. Mok Buakaow (currently based in Minneapolis) has developed her Nong Project. A line of Nong clay sculptures lead us to a display of images of a Nong in various places around town. There is a series of amazing paper cutout pictures by Bovey Lee (currently based in Pennsylvania) and a very clever, rather unsettling pair of hands tapping on the top of an oil drum ‘Doublehands Drum’ is by Ping Qui (based in Berlin). Also very clever are the Socketron and Plugobot pieces by Vincent Leong (Malaysia) which are robot-like creatures made entirely from electric plugs and sockets all fitted together.

Its great to see so much contemporary work by Asian artists here in the North West thanks to the efforts of the Blackburn and Darwen arts team. This show is part of plAAy which has been a 2 year programme in the area with both residencies and exhibitions.

Strange World runs from Saturday, September 5 until Saturday, November 21 2009

Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery,opening times are Tuesday – Saturday, 10.00 – 16.45

Nong Project by Mok Buakaow
Nong Project by Mok Buakaow
Yellow by Seiko Kinoshita
Yellow by Seiko Kinoshita
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