Wunderkammer at The Hoxton Art Gallery

By Katrine Carstens

From last week’s review of the opening of The Hoxton Art Gallery, forward 10 months and they are showing no signs of slowing down. When I arrived at the door, the owner Matthew Nickerson exuded a jovial and understated confidence, circulating the room effortlessly. It was nice to see him having grown into his role so well.

Their new exhibition, Wunderkammer, runs from 9 March to 12 April and is a wonderful journey into various curiousities. Wunderkammer means “chamber of curiousities” in German and was a trend in 18th century wealthy households. In this Aladdin’s cave of the weird and wonderful, people could marvel at these “yet to be categorised” objects brought back by sailors and adventurers – sometimes in joy, othertimes in horror. The exhibition is meant to capture this shiver the unknown can send down your spine.

Artist Mathew Tom’s pieces were firmly focused on the concept of religion. Although not religious himself, he told me how he has travelled far and wide, exploring the terms and colours of religious expression. His diptych Miracle (twin piece, for those who, like me, are learning!) portray a pair of hands, each with a flowering rose branch growing through them. It seemed to me a wonderful re-imagining of Christ, not forgetting the brutality of his last moments, yet focusing more on the flowers, the beauty and the meaning of faith. Thorns and all.

Nadine Mahoney’s piece Quiet Revolution was composed entirely of the same blue pigment, manipulated and layered to create different effects. The figure was wearing a Napoleon era style jacket and it brough to my mind to the General’s last years, in exile and relative obscurity. It turns out that Nadine does not liken her pieces to anyone in particular, but enjoys leaving it open to the viewer to read into it what they like. I definitely appreciate the ambiguity. Another piece of hers, New Romantic, again a study in blues, featured a little purple blob by his ear. To me it was a little flower, cheekily tucked behind his ear, quite romantic in a slightly silly way. Nadine explained how it just happened that way in the creative process and somehow looked right. I could only agree with her.

Another two pieces of hers stood out for me, both outlines of figures on aluminium. The first, called That Friday Feeling and Sunshine Sunday done in oil. Both were of the same out line a head and torso, done in spraypaint and oil, yet they conveyed totally different feelings. That Friday Feeling had purple stirrings at the core with darker tones as the outline. Looking at it gave me a slightly unsettled, yet excited feeling – like you might have before going out to a party. Sunshine Sunday was indeed just that, with the figure sitting bathed in light, enjoying a well earnt rest. Very much calmer than the Friday Feeling and perhaps the logical conclusion of a good weekend.

Without enough space to mention all the artists featured in the exhibition, there is only one thing to do for the curious of you out there. Get yourself down to Charlotte Road and have a look for yourself!

Hoxton Art Gallery, 64 Charlotte Road, Hoxton, London EC2A 3PE, Tel: 0207 739 6852, www.hoxtonartgallery.co.uk.

Opening hours: Tue – Fri: 11-18.00, Sat; 11-16.00, Sun-Mon: Closed.

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