Manchester artist Hilary Jack at Castlefield Gallery


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Items once loved now cast-off and forlorn in the strangest of resting places. We’ve all seen this strange phenomena from time to time. Products deemed rubbish and discarded by the roadside, the forest glen, some of the most unlikely places. A pair of underpants abandoned in a park. A pair of high heels on a bus stop roof. You try to imagine the scenario that led to the sad abandonment of said items. Manchester artist Hilary Jack takes pity on the flotsam and jetsum of modern life no longer wanted that she finds on her travels.

Her first UK solo show is to take place at Castlefield Gallery with the sweet title ‘And Scent of Pine and the Woodthrush Singing…’ from T. S. Eliot’s ‘Marina’. In the show she uses broken objects and discarded materials from a variety of sources including city streets, eBay or charity shops. She then transforms and rejuvenates them before sometimes returning them to their original locations.

The transformation from the overlooked and forgotten into a new, exalted position lies at the heart of Jack’s work. For Castlefield Gallery she has converted a dead tree into a balustrade with the help of a professional wood turner, while a lost helium balloon discovered in woodland is re-inflated and photographed to celebrate the forests’ reprieve from privatisation. The rubbish of everyday life is rearranged by Jack to form sculptural installations that comment on a countryside under threat or a domestic home damaged, making ingenious use of unwanted detritus and reinvigorating the lost and abandoned into a newly skewed narrative.

Hauled back from the brink of oblivion her actions become an almost comic, slightly derranged act of restoration, which intentionally deprives the object of its original purpose, rendering it useless. This metamorphosis of everyday items into unfamiliar functionless art objects has uncanny and melancholic connotations which invite us to explore the abandoned article anew.

“Finding myself in the countryside, I skirted a wood by the light of the moon. My effigy produced by its light excited my attention…. By a particular disposition of the mind, the effect of this simulacrum seemed to be of an extreme sadness. The trees drawn on the ground by their shadows made the most profound impression on me. This picture grew in my imagination. I then saw everything that was the most sombre in nature. What did I see? The mass of objects detached in black against a light of extreme pallor…”

‘And Scent of Pine and the Woodthrush Singing…’ runs from 10 June to 24 July 2011 Castlefield Gallery, Manchester www.castlefieldgallery.co.uk

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