On Friday 4 September during the monthly art feast that is Digbeth First Fridays a new exhibition from London-based artist Emma Hart opened at Grand Union. big Mouth is an exhibition of ceramic sculptures, photography and audio work that sets out to tell you how it is and how it really feels.
Originally working in photography and digital formats, Emma Hart came to feel that the ‘real’ world that we experience is split from the way that digital culture references it and became frustrated with the way in which digital culture smooths over life’s cracks. Through sculpture Hart has found a way to work behind pictures and expose the raw, crude state of things that images screen off.
The gallery space is filled with wonderfully tactile sculptures, their glossy glaze belying their subject matter. There are ceramic arms, like bleached bones, rubbing tears from eyes, dripping into brown ceramic pools on the floor. There are others clenching an invisible stomach, doubled over in pain. A ceramic fist (Punch) swings out from the central pillar at face-height. Along the back wall of the gallery space ceramic hair cascades down in waves, squeezed through anus-like scrunchies in a row. In one corner a pair of ceramic legs undulate from the gallery wall, fleshy patches running with beads of sweat. This new work is unveiled in big Mouth for the first time, and illustrates well Hart’s desire to present those everyday struggles that we all face – every day moments of awkwardness, pain, sadness.
Hart’s ceramic works are accompanied in the exhibition by Radio Shame, a small black radio resting on a pink ceramic tray stained with brown mug rings and spills. The radio plays a series of recordings made by Hart over a prolonged period. In the recordings Hart discusses her anxieties about her daily life, poverty, being working class and being an artist. In parts she sings, then in others she comforts her baby daughter Gloria. There’s something really captivating, and charming, about this work, which washes over the gallery space and somehow unites all of the other work.
big Mouth can be seen at Grand Union until 31 October 2015. www.grand-union.org.uk