SafeHouse 2 is an interesting exhibition space, part of a larger complex of buildings all used to display art. It is a two up, two down, terraced house that has been stripped to the brick walls, more building site than art gallery.
It is a perfect space for a certain kind of art. Bold, rough or with strong colours to pull itself out from the the background. Lighting also posed a challenge as the provided lighting was non existent to extremely minimal.
I was initially very excited by the space I had within SafeHouse 2, it being a long clear wall upstairs that was well lit by natural light from two windows. The wall itself was plastered but heavily pock marked. It looked like someone has been firing guns into the wall and shooting off the plaster as the rounds had hit. This seemed an ideal backdrop for my Ascent of Man piece with its Blood Guns.
Accent of Man, inspired by work that I have been doing around gun culture and crimes, is a series of individual pieces constructed from laser cut gun pieces that were put together almost like an animal or creature. Each piece got a bit bigger or more involved than its predecessor evolving closer and closer to a gun but never really getting there.
Their original working title was Blood Guns because they were constructed with lasercut acetate and stuck together with a custom made fake blood. This gave them a strangely evocative and haunting effect. But the individual pieces went through several iterations to try and convey the feeling of their evolution or struggle to realize themselves in some way.
When they came to be attached to the wall the lighting quickly became an issue. One could not really appreciate the translucent and haunting effect of the pieces. I found a couple of side illumination halogens were very effective in restoring that feel to them although it would have been better if the lighting was more polished and less harsh.
During the private view it became apparent that, rather than helping to tell their story, the background wall with it's 'pock marks' was hindering peoples ability to really see the pieces and from a distance they were at times missed.
The lesson learnt here was both to think more carefully about the position of pieces, the lighting and to their background, which sadly in this setting distracted from pieces that represented weapons of destruction and death but were themselves rather beautiful. My Blood Guns for all their lineage from weapons of death were too beautiful and delicate for this decayed and chaotic gallery.