Friday, November 19, 2010

Vapour trail

It’s not always the grandest and most promoted exhibitions that stay in your mind. We were reminded of this, when searching through old files, we came across a single Xerox sheet that was the exhibition listing for the Ouse Project. This was a selection of installations that snuck into a soon-to-be-renovated (or was it soon-to-be-demolished?) building on Wellington’s Kent Terrace. The exhibition was curated by Ros Cameron who also helped start up Enjoy and is now (she was an outstanding curator) lost to teaching (regrettably to us that is, probably not to her students). 

In the Ouse Project Ros did what she did best by letting loose the artists she curated into an intriguiging space without the whole enterprise ending up as a muddle. This is never as easy as it sounds. Ros also contributed to the exhibition as an artist by waxing part of the floor - perhaps in tribute to the Porsche car dealership below. Some of the artists in the show are still working and we have seen some of them exhibiting recently including Karen Van Roosmalen, Glen Haywood and Regan Gentry. 

It was Regan Gentry who made the work that really knocked us out in the Ouse Project. It was a confident and spectacular installation he called A range. On top of a dozen or so ironing boards he had piled a huge heap of rubble gathered from the site. The slender stick legs of the ironing boards were just on the point of buckling but held the load. Dramatically lit from the floor it was both strange, ambitious and thrilling, the sort of work every curator hopes an artist will come up with. Inevitably it was dismantled and lost to the world when the show finished and the space went back to being an office or an apartment or whatever. 

Ironically though this exhibition lives on. The website was abandoned but never taken down as is often the case on the internet. It's like a ghost town in space promoting the opening of Ouse in 2004, forever. Thanks for the memory.

We spoke too soon. A year later the site stopped functioning.

Image: Left, the one page Ouse illustrated listing. Right, Regan Gentry’s installation A range