Who knew ’50 Shades of Grey’ had anything to do with laundry colour-catchers?

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By: Sarah Reilly

For its 2012 Christmas exhibition, the Talbot Gallery in Dublin has invited over 40 artists to create a new artwork using items purchased from discount shops.

The fun exhibition is called “Fast Moving Consumer Goods” and was launched yesterday.

With the recently released details of Budget 2013, the exhibition couldn’t have been better timed.

Artist Myra Jago produced a model of semi detached ghost houses made from card, matchsticks, cocktail sticks and pegs. The overall concept is eye catching and precisely illustrates the eerie atmosphere of the many ghost estates left behind in the aftermath of the Celtic Tiger. “I didn’t want to go down the plastic route. Boxes of huge matches kept jumping at me. My piece is based on actual ghost-houses in a ghost-estate in Balgriffin, County Dublin”, said Ms. Jago.

Myra Jago
“Nobody’s Home”, By Myra Jago

Exhibition curator Elaine Grainger described the exhibition as a “huge success”. She said, “All of the artists really took to the idea and pushed the boundaries. Every piece of work is truly inspirational”.

An interesting take on one of this year’s best-selling books is Madeleine Hellier’s artwork titled “Fifty Shades of Grey”. Ms. Hellier produced a beautifully finished piece, using a humerous and quirky concept which was influenced by everyday family life. The piece is a wonderful abstract-style collection of used laundry colour-catchers which are displayed in two euro photo-frames. Describing her piece she said, “The colour-catchers were the two euro shop’s best-seller this year, while ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ was a best-seller in the bookshops. I have four children, so the only fifty shades of grey in my life are the ones illustrated on these colour-catchers”.

Madeline Hellier
Madeline Hellier with her piece, “Fifty Shades of Grey”

Nicky Hooper produced a piece titled ‘Tea and Symphony’, which was made from portable speakers, tights and china teacups. Ms. Hooper said, “It was a challenge because when you’re surrounded by a shop full of trash, it’s really hard to choose just one or two things”.

Curator and participant Claire Halpin described the exhibition as being “strongly influenced by the recession”. “Despite the materials used, none of the pieces being exhibited are tacky. All participating artists really had to push the boundaries with this one”, she said. One of her pieces, titled ‘1120 attempts to make one ice-cube’, humorously illustrates how the new-age round shaped ice-bag seems to be replacing the old fashioned ice-cube.

Claire Halpin
“1120 Attempts to make one cube”, By Claire Halpin

Artist Paul Mc Cormack’s work really stands out in this exhibition. He produced a striking and entertaining self-portrait, using an ornamental Cherub which he bought in a two euro shop. “It was such great fun. I realised that my facial features were very like that of the cherub. All I did was strip the gold paint off the face and repainted that part. The brush in the cherub’s hand is telling you that I am an artist”.

Paul Mc Cormack
Paul Mc Cormack with his creation, titled “Self Portrait 2012”

Mr. Mc Cormack is also exhibiting a piece titled, ‘It’s always the strap that breaks on a €5.99 watch’. “This one is about my relationship with cheap shops. I have a habit of buying my watches in these discount shops, no matter how often they break. Funny enough, the actual piece that tells the time rarely breaks but the straps seem to rip like paper. The straps are so expensive to get repaired so it makes sense to just buy another cheap one…until the next time that is. Maybe it’s time I invested in a good one actually”, he said.

Paul Mc Cormack 2
“It’s always the strap that breaks on a €5.99 watch”, By Paul Mc Cormack

Bláth Ní Mhurchu’s initial plan was to produce a collage. However, when she first went into the two euro shop, she just took lots of photographs and went home to contemplate. Ms. Ní Mhurcu said, “It was only when I went home and looked at the photos that I realised every product in the shop was marketed with tags saying ‘WOW’. There are lots of subliminal messages in this type of marketing. The piece I decided to do in the end represents the reality that many of the items bought in such discount stores are disposed of very quickly, which makes the ‘WOW’ theme quite ironic.”

Blath Ni Mhurchu
“Homo Consumericus”, By: Bláth Ní Mhurchu

The materials used in Claire Mc Cluskey’s piece include glass from picture frames, doilies, road map and tinfoil. Her piece is titled ‘Resources, Origins and Culture’. “There were a couple of late nights but it was great fun working on this project. My pieces are about how people’s identities are shaped by resources, where they are from and social mannerisms”, she said.

Daria Privalko used a fibre optic lamp, fairy lights and foam board to create an exquisite, technologically driven piece titled ‘6,094’. She describes the ‘Fast Moving Consumer Goods’ exhibition as “exciting” and said, “It was great to work outside the box”.

Daria Privalko
“6,094”, By: Dario Privalko

Considering the work that has been put into the pieces exhibited, the selling-prices really do not do them justice. Prices range from just €2 to €250.

The exhibition runs from  December 6th to 22nd at The Talbot Gallery 51 Talbot St, phone (01) 8556599.

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