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Review: The Intensives – GARAGELAND at Galley

The Intensives – GARAGELAND
at The Galley, off Oldham St., Liverpool. Ends Thursday 12 November 2015. View by appointment (contact The Intensives on 07443491801)

Words by Patrick Kirk-Smith. Photographs by artinliverpool and Patrick Kirk-Smith

The Intensives is the brainchild of Mick Gill. But. Big but. It is important to clarify that Mick is by no means the captain of this peculiar ship. The Intensives Gallery is an underground-DIY-garageland surrounded by ideas and shared interests in the devotion to the role of being an artist. It is an incredibly honest show, with very little ego around it. That, to me anyway, seems to be the role of The Intensives Gallery; it is a self-sustaining vehicle which deliberately ignores the standard format of things.

The underground attitude of the group is reflected constantly in the punk visuals and DIY displays of not just the art work but the gallery, the flyers, even the email I received from Mick was a DIY mishmash of ideas. But this DIY mishmash works. Whether it is because punk is back in fashion, or something to do with the return of outsider art, it is hard to say. But Liverpool seems just about ready for an exhibition this honest; this naturally connected; this devoted.

The artists have come together through having exhibited in Gill’s gallery, based in Merchant Taylor’s School, where we can only hope the students are engaging as fully as they ought, and have plans to expand soon, bringing in artists from an international base. The further afield the artists are pulled from, the stronger this group is going to get, widening that DIY ethos.

I asked Mick Gill what he thought tied it all together and the resounding answer was that “it’s a very visceral show on the one hand but there’s also layers of meaning and ambiguity in the image making.” It’s the sort of visceral ambiguity that holds the interest, not just because each work needs untangling, but because the connections between the works need untangling too. The works connect and have clear similarities and differences between each other. Visually, they are all quite different, but the more consideration the group is given, the more it seems like a unified body of work.

Chiz Turnross’ Encantadas paintings support Mick Gill’s lithographs, while Andrew Berry’s toyed with photographs that have their narrative retold and built on by Colette Whittington’s risographs – a fascinating digital/analogue printing technique using one tone printing in layers to achieve the full image. Is it a scintillatingly multi-disciplinary exhibition, bringing together sculpture, painting, printing, collage and collection in an incredibly limited room which allows the energy of each piece to bounce back and forth between themselves. The cornerstone of the show though, the piece that brings all exhibitors together, and ties it all in with the space is Mike Badger’s Post Industrial Primitive cabinet. The wall hung collection helps to emphasise the way The Intensives functions; a series of interconnected things that share an idea, or a time, or something not quite definable to the naked eye.

I strongly advise anyone to try their best to find this exhibition, hidden at the end of an alley, behind a shipping container, behind The Dispensary. And if you do, as the flyer says, “Bang loudly”.