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Pause for Living, Roxy Topia & Paddy Gould; An exhibition at CBS Gallery & Pink Sands Studio

Two exhibitions, because they can. Two spaces I have meant to visit over and over and over again, and always failed, astounded me in their exceptionalism. CBS and Pink Sands are galleries without any real parallels in the city, both going far past the expectation of a studio gallery.

These are spaces ready for people to see their work, their process, their ideas, and their collaboration, and to feel, at the same time, isolated and engaged in only the work. The same detachment you feel in major gallery spaces – just you, and the work. No niggling little “I can see the joint tape”, or “look at that polyfiller on the floor”. Perfect spaces.

And even though I’m irritated I’ve missed out on so many shows in these spaces over the last few years, I’m glad it was this linked show that took me to both. The installation by Roxy Topia & Paddy Gould was as immaculate as the spaces.

Polymer clays, resin paints and 5mm board just washed together in a spotless installation of surrealism, whose pretences were broken down by the representational drawings of mundane (if at times, obscure) household items.

The work was mostly created in 2020, but began prior to any whisper of a pandemic. It’s transformation as a result of isolation, by two artists who live, work and think together, is clear through the still life drawings of plants, empty cereal bowls, pristine bathroom cupboards and laundry racks.

The sculpture, for the most part, is unrelated to the drawings in any immediate sense, but the suggestion of the exhibitions title, Pause for Living, leads to those mundane sketches being teased into the sculpture, with a crisp broken down form of a laundry basket, holding blackness, and stacked with perfectly folded wooden t-shirts.

The story of the show is told indirectly in the catalogue, which shares a transcription of a conversation that only completes if you visit both exhibitions. The conversation, Still talking about the weather, is split into two halves; Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter.

The second seems more directly related to the exhibition content, the art historical references and the day to day prompts we all faced through the last year.

Put the washing on, feed the fish, clean the houseplants. It all feeds back into home life, considering the intricate memories sparked by simple items on our shelves, or reflections on loved ones.

But equally, the relationship between Roxy Topia and Paddy Gould, provides a unique insight into the working lives of artists. Their in person collaboration was limited to their own four walls, so the conversations, as well as being personal, have a hint of professional timekeeping – pausing for a tea break.

There’s humour to the show, which continues to 3rd October, but there’s also a sensitivity which helps to make 2020 a little more palatable. And a promise of future projects in both CBS Gallery & at Pink Sands Studio. I need to visit more than once every four years now.

Words, Patrick Kirk-Smith
Images, Kathryn Wainwright
Open until 3rd October at Pink Sands Studio
Now closed at CBS Gallery