Rising like a phoenix out of the ever popular Fine Arts degree at Nottingham Trent University (not that comparisons between Trent and a firey hole are necessary, but you get the gist), Sixes and Sevens are, ‘an umbrella organisation supporting a number of artists committed to hosting diverse art events and collaborations throughout Nottingham and the East Midlands.’ Judging from their debut offering, Part 1, this fledging group is certainly one to keep an eye out for in the future.
I was initially sceptical of my potential enjoyment of an exhibition with such a fluid mission statement and whilst the Surface Gallery’s small yet somehow open space certainly served to illustrate the diversity in the pieces, instead of my expected alienation I found myself drawn to the student feel of this tiny bare room filled with mismatch models, as if the knowledge of our fellow academic pursuits somehow bridged the gap between audience and artist.
A highlight piece for me was Antonietta Sacco’s work, combining biro, tipex and every day scraps of card to form a formal, foundation-plan-like grid out of the seemingly unconnected chaos of this doodling. These objects and their disfiguration, instantly identifiable to any student with a penchant for absent minded scribbling or allegedly Freudian paper massacres, were offset by a somehow disturbing notion that these seemingly quotidian parts of life were part of a far bigger picture, or worse, plan, a juxtaposition most eloquently done.
However the talking point by far was Emily Birrell’s ‘Think Tank’, a rather menacing looking constructed box room lurking at the back of the gallery. Naturally intrigued, my companion I and followed its instructions to enter and turn off the light. I confess I did intially think that her statement “is this it?” was spot on… For something that casts such a dominant figure in the room, you feel a little let down by the place. When all is said and done it was just a dark box with a bulb smeared with fluorescent paint that glows when you switch off the light. That said, I don’t think the ‘Think Tank’ was supposed to answer any of my thoughts, and I couldn’t help thinking with a smile when it was the sole subject of discussion on the walk home (“What the hell was that about?! Do you think it was supposed to represent something? I’m clearly not arty enough for this…”), that perhaps the whole point was to throw up thoughts, not solve them.
All in all, whilst I can’t say Part 1 was my cup of tea, but it certainly made me think. Sixes and Sevens are certainly a group of artists I would recommend seeing, if only to curb the curiosity of what on earth they could produce next. These guys definitely have the potential to spark debate for a while yet.