Playground 2017.1: Space and images

A year ago, a dozen or so artists, myself included, who didn’t already work together, were chosen by the John Hansard Gallery to produce work in their space which was then opened for a public exhibition – the Playground project. There’s a bit about it here and here. A year on, we’re still in touch as a loose ‘Playground Collective’ and gathered once more, this time in Southampton’s Arch 04, part of aspacearts. Same people, different location, and this time, no pre-existing remit… so, what to do?

Firstly, we couldn’t help but notice the lack of tension – we’d been here before, we knew each other, and we didn’t have to produce anything tangible if we didn’t want to. We chatted – caught up a bit – then started thinking about themes. ‘Value’ came up a couple of times. Trying to evoke the freedom of childhood play. Reusing materials AKA ‘stuff’. Some of this stuff came in the form of a bundle of black-and-white photos – many holiday snaps, but plenty more subjects besides. Some were clearly related – from the same roll of film, others quite possibly not. We were free to use them as we saw fit – destructively if that’s the way it went.

What first grabbed my attention was a selection of people looking through sea-side coin-operated telescopes. Arrange them just so and they are spying on each other. Add more to either end of the sequence and we have a journey of sorts. Cut out figures and we have falling shadows, lost people, the emptiness of authority…


Part of the videoed sequence


Silhouettes, lost people?


Who are you to tell me where to look? You are nothing!