Review: Space is The Place, Patric Rogers & Angelo Madonna at Convenience Gallery

I said it last month and I’ll say it again – Convenience are making spaces for artists to do more, to try more. It’s special.

Angelo Madonna and Patric Rogers have created something really outstanding. But mostly just playful. There’s some intricate experiments which seem like they’ve been toiling away in a lab to create this work. Testing the heights, the length of the pendulums, the thickness of the boards, and it all comes together into a something that just works. And by the point you’ve come to terms with the functionality of it, it stops mattering that there’s a fan in the corner, blowing the pendulum around. It’s part of the function of the work.

I’ve had the good fortune to have worked with Angelo (or sort of next to him), and I know the precision matters, but equally, I know the excitement of making these kinds of installations work. They’re as much a performance as they are an art work.

The performance, which in this case is bodiless, anonymous, and kind of lonely, reflects on a year of collective bodiless, anonymous and lonely experience. Beginning from Patric Roger’s experience of lockdown, travelling regularly to Hilbre Island, and in turn, heightening his own aloneness, it shares an intimate reflection on a place which became critically important to the artist as a space to be alone, to be with himself, and with the elements.

The audio reflects on that connection to the elements, and uses Angelo Madonna’s work to build the visceral sensory room you’re left standing in to watch the film – which is somehow overexposed at the same time as being curiously dark.

I wonder though, whether this is an exhibition which talks around lockdown because it has to, or because it wants to. So much of the lived experience of artists for the last year has been hardship; financial, emotional, physical. And artists, in most cases, make work about their experience. So it’s unavoidable that lockdown will play a part in almost all new exhibitions for years to come, but in this case the show, while referencing it, doesn’t seem to rely on it entirely. Hilbre is a space of sanctuary regardless of our shared experiences. It’s one of the most special geographies we own in Merseyside. So isolation there feels therapeutic regardless.

What makes a lot of sense though, is that anybody viewing this exhibition, whether they’ve been to Hilbre or not, will understand some of that sense of isolation the artists are celebrating.

Words, Patrick Kirk-Smith
Pictures, Kathryn Wainwright
Space is The Place continues until 2nd October 2021