Review: Michael Lacey: A Hole, A Mountain

Michael Lacey at A Small View, 2016

Michael Lacey: A Hole, A Mountain
A Small View
, until 28th January 2016

Words, Patrick Kirk-Smith

Just over a year ago I interviewed Michael Lacey as the winner of the Liverpool Art Prize at Editions Ltd. When I walked into A Small View this week I was expecting his work to have moved on, but perhaps wasn’t expecting enough…

The combination of having a room to completely experiment with, and working with artist and curator Gabrielle de la Puente meant that this exhibition was barely recognisable from his collage work at Editions this time last year.

There’s nothing quite like a new space to bring out the best in your work, and he has completely embraced A Small View in that respect. They gave him a room, said do what you like, and an intriguing jigsaw of an exhibition scattered around the walls was his response.

Last year, his work was serious, buyable, and a more than a little bit intricate. This year his work is much freer, much more engaging, and has more obvious sense of humour.

The exhibition comes with a warning – Not suitable for children, or cats. They’ll knock the ladders over. It’s the small asides that build this exhibition up like marginal notes on a dissertation. There is no major work in the centre of a room, and no coherent plan. What results from all that is a conversation between a lot of smaller work that build up the whole.

I suspect this has a lot to do with the curator, part of the curatorial duo, The White Pube, Gabrielle de la Puente. Her exhibition, a few months ago at A Small View, was along the same lines in its production. One disjointed narrative, built from a lot of quick ideas.

A Hole, A Mountain, the exhibition’s title, implies something quite daunting, and in a way putting on a solo show of entirely new work is a particularly difficult mountain to climb. And whether the hole is a pit of writers’ block the artist was struggling to get out of, or a very literal one his aunty fell down on Crosby beach (apparently), it’s a hard thing to climb a mountain out of that. It takes small steps. Lots of fast ideas.

The result is a fast paced multimedia collage that raises eyebrows and twists up the corner of your mouth. I don’t think I’ve ever used this word to describe an exhibition before, but it’s the only one I can find that honestly sums it up… it’s an incredibly friendly exhibition.

An exhibition I actually want to revisit, just for something to do. Not because I need to understand it more, just because it made me feel part of the process somehow.