Crazee Golf, Tintype Gallery
Review by Ciara Healy
Art is a strangely human endeavour, capable of moving us, sometimes reluctantly, out of the comfortable world of democratic mediocrity. Crazee Golf, currently on show at Tintype Gallery, is far removed from The Daily Mail certainty of 18 holes on a Saturday afternoon, because it explores what it means to be strangely human, to break from being flattened into consuming units.
Situated on a street of diamond ring shops and gold dealers, the unsophisticated, sometimes clumsy materials used to make the artworks for this show possess a poetic irreverence, a profound contrast to the other businesses on St. Cross Street.
Carefully curated by Oona and Teresa Grimes, this punk philosophy is particularly apparent in Tom Woolner’s ‘The Scene: A Golf Course: The Weather: Fair’ (2012), that echoes the aesthetic of an ice-cream spattered crazy golf course one might see between the amusement arcade and the chip shop in most run down seaside towns. Woolner’s rectangles of insulation foam are carved into a diamond pattern, reminiscent of golfing sweaters.
Over this, drawings of Argyll socks and spirograh rocks are etched on to sheets of glass. Encased in white frames, their cosy hubris is sealed shut with crude lumps of builder’s putty. Such a clunky, comic style, often seen as the browbeaten poor cousin of what might be considered ‘serious’ art, is an approach adopted by many of the artists in this show.
The concept of pushing materiality and making strange with everyday objects continues on the opposite wall with Jo Addison’s ‘Think-thing (Rainbow)’ (2012). The playful nature of these lyrical arches belies their elusive elegance, poise and grace. Carved from MDF, her craftsmanship is effortlessly lovely, like a drawing remembered from an old children’s book.
Metamorphosis and narrative also occurs in Oona Grimes’ ‘Alice’s Holes and Alice’s Holes (a hole pack of cards)’ (2012). These drawings bear a subtle resemblance to Brueghel’s depictions of complacency in ‘The Land of Cockaigne’ (1567). Plump figures look solemnly down black holes or become tangled in rolling golf balls, their wiggling golf-socked feet perpetually trying to find the right way up. Each of the delicately executed drawings on Grimes’ cards can be re-arranged and read in many ways.
These characters, like Sarah Woodfine’s ‘We’re Not in Kansas Anymore’ (2012) not only reference an Alice in Wonderland-like disorientation, they also make the tacit suggestion that we, like Brueghel’s overfed clerk, peasant and soldier, have become too content with our abundance. The black hole becomes an ominous indicator that things are not going to end well.
This idea is amplified in Richard Wentworth’s ‘Flightpath’ (2012); a pane of glass held to the window with sticky silicone splats. They resemble the aftermath of a Tom and Jerry battle, funny and terrifying, a cartoon intimation that masks the oncoming darkness.
There are a number of amusingly literal schoolyard sexual references to holes and balls throughout the show, but their impact pales beside William Cobbing’s ‘Gondwanaland.’ These dusky photographic prints of a ghostly, abandoned crazy golf course in Bournemouth powerfully convey the pathos of failure, becoming a Smithsesque swansong to surplus.
Far from being ‘a good walk ruined’, Crazee Golf reconsiders the left over raw materials of consumer society, and in so doing, restores and re-enchants our perception of them.