All That Glitters – jewellery works around the prints of Sue Brown and wood carvings of Mikael Nilsson
Bluecoat Display Centre – Saturday 21 November 2015 – Saturday 16 January 2016
Words by Patrick Kirk-Smith. Photographs by Patrick Kirk-Smith and Bluecoat Display Centre.
All That Glitters is another wonderful exhibition from The Bluecoat Display Centre, combining unambiguous methods with to the point visuals. The exhibition focusses on the indulgent work of Sue Brown and Mikael Nilsson, who take inspiration from ornithological thieves.
The understanding of the mediums the two artists demonstrate is unsurpassed by the jewellery on display. Not even close. And I mean that in no way negatively, as the craftsmanship of the silver pieces is exquisite, but Brown and Nilsson’s prints and sculptures are gorgeously textured, leaving nothing to the imagination. It was really difficult not to start touching each and every work in the show if I’m being quite frank, as there’s nothing quite as tempting as burned wood – especially burned wood so bravely carved as this.
The prints hold nothing back either, showing us the strokes of the ink, and putting every needle hole on display. These works are true celebrations of their materials, and have made the most of their setting in an incredibly indulgent way, showing off rich, vivid blues, and deep charcoal blacks that tempt the viewer in for more. There is something sumptuous here, in the combination of stroke and colour, something work a second look.
Nilsson’s crows are aiming at menacing, but I think mischievous might be where they’ve landed; more Dumbo’s Jim Crow, than Hitchcock’s Crows. They lurk tentatively on plinths and spying into glass cases, planning their means of escape. In a sense there is a friendliness to them too, perhaps with the cheek that reminds us that crows do have that mischievous power of deduction in common with ourselves. And it is that mischief which so perfectly ties them to Sue Brown’s magpies, spying over everything with a false innocence that drew me in.
I really don’t want to make the jewellery sound anything less than what it was though, as they were each wonderful pieces, but here, displayed amongst the magpies and the crows, they are simply treasure. The spoils. It is a clever exhibition with a sense of humour, and I’m sure there won’t be very much left for the artists to take home at end of it if everyone else feels the same way as I do.