Monday, 31 January 2011

The Bluecoat- Underwater Exhibition.

'Underwater is about the experience of total submersion; we invite you to return to the watery depths once more. The exhibition of painting, sculpture, photography and video by ten international artists brings together the most compelling underwater- inspired artworks of the past decade, and proposes that underwater is a compelling motif of our times.' (

I had heard strong mixed reviews about this exhibition and these strong opinions were echoed in the comments book, which i read after my visit. This exhibition seems to induce a love/hate reaction, and reactions varied from ' a beautifully constructed imaginative exhibition' to 'psuedo art, lacking in originality'.

The first piece that I saw in this exhibition was Dorothy Cross's film piece, constituting of a naked woman floating in clear water, surrounded by an abundance of translucent jelly fish. Her face is out of sight, floating above the water, and her hair swirls and pulsates, reflecting the movement of the jellyfish. This all sounds very poetic and beautiful, and although it had the potential to be, I personally found the way that it was filmed didn't quite give it justice. In contrast, the lighting and general editing of the piece are much more impressive in Bill Violas piece 'Becoming Light' in which a naked man and woman tread water in a deep blue abyss. They appear to be in a trance like state, dancing, and flailing around together. This piece was particularly mesmerising, and I particularly liked how the water reflected onto the skin, forming ripples of light and shade.

Other pieces which caught my attention were Seunghyun Woo’s sculptures of imaginary aquatic flora and fauna.This could have been due to the fact that they took up so much gallery space, and were physically unavoidable. On a positive note, there was something playful and childlike about these pieces, speckled with neon candy colour that appealed to the child within. The work was not obviously aquatic based, and looked more like specimens from an alien landscape.

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