Friday, September 22, 2023
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Review: Rabbit Holes in the Playing Field, Meave Thompson at The Royal Standard

Rabbit Holes in the Playing Field represents Maeve Thompson’s relationship to place in an incredibly relatable way. 

It’s not sad, or tinged with any sort of devastating story, it’s not an artist putting their perspective on a problematic world at your feet. This exhibition is an artist sharing the beauty of a normal life, and observations from it that have stuck.

The idea that artists need to reflect on the troubles of the world in order to make us feel something is oversold. Most members of any audience have trauma, but probably not defining trauma. So connecting to works about trauma can be difficult. 

Connecting to work that confidently possesses normal existence is important. It links us to artists and makes us smile. It’s important. 

The smile for me was the printer’s marks above the faded playing field on a pinned-up cotton sheet. Simple, but real. For others, it could be the placement of safety signage so routine it’s barely noticeable. For some, that smile might have come from the recognisable ‘London at Night’ postcard pinned to the wall – a postcard most of us have seen before, but still quietly and guiltily laugh at.

The proposal for the exhibition, offered to The Royal Standard who hosted it, suggested a focus on the mundane. I’m avoiding that word intentionally because it’s sort of not. ‘Mundane’ suggests that something is actively boring. I don’t believe that Maeve Thompson believes the subject of her work is boring, but I do understand the reasoning. 

Day-to-day, normal life, similar to other observational works around the city this month, is a fascinating, rich, and diverse experience. It’s harder to make work about in many ways, because it can feel boring, but it’s the ability to find the fascination in the ‘mundane’ that lifts this work from that title.

Every piece of Rabbit Holes in the Playing Field is relevant. The boards used to display ceramic trinkets came from the artist’s parent’s house, the ceramic casts follow through on ideas of tradition by elevating forgettable objects to art-historical artefacts.

Everything is part of a process of creating a museum or an archive of a set of experiences. 

I think that feels quite important too. It’s not a museum of a life, or a place. It’s a museum of perspectives on things that don’t necessarily have anything to do with the artist. 

You know those moments in the day where you wish you’d stopped and looked just little longer? As you pass by a bit of graffiti, or a can, crushed neatly around a fence post? Those moments you wish you’d stopped are the moments Maeve Thompson did.

That’s Rabbit Holes in the Playing Field. It’s a series of moments, where a normal person, lived a normal life, and considered normal objects, exceptionally.