Month: April 2010

Review in the Skinny

Makes it all worthwhile


The Axolotl Gallery holds a deceptively sugary appeal from Dundas Street; its bright purple shop front displays colourful, surreal paintings promising an array of delectable, cultural sweets for passing dilettantes. The interior, reminiscent of a boutique, is open and uncluttered yet holds various separate spaces to discover unique treasures, trinkets and memories.

The work that most pertains to this twee, knick-knack feel (whilst simultaneously undermining its apparent light-heartedness) is Sarah Wilson’s elegy to her adoptive parents through sculpture and installation. This includes found sentimental objects – such as ticket stubs, horse shoes, figurines, badges and condoms – encased and displayed in small boxes of resin. These intensely personal curios are arranged and fossilised to form new narrative meanings, the stand-alone piece being the half-encased work shoes of Wilson’s father, visually arresting as the thick, translucent resin distorts the worn texture of the leather, evoking a strange transformation of mundane objects into haunted relics and the absurdity of simple human endeavour in the face of mortality.


here’s the poem ……

Contemporary artist, Sarah Wilson’s latest installation was unveiled last night at the trendy Axolotl Gallery on Dundas Street, Edinburgh.

Sarah’s work is a beautifully personal collection of 18 framed resins, an engraved dressing table with its drawer full of buttons, a poem and a pair of army boots trapped in two huge blocks of resin.

Describing her work Sarah’s passion and enthusiasm is obvious,

“The project has been years in planning but finally came together when I lost my Depeche Mode concert tickets.  I turned the house upside down and I unearthed a huge treasure trove of memories I’d hoarded throughout my life.

When my adoptive parents died I was faced with the task of realistically clearing out their possessions, one day my son will have to do the same for me.  The little nut I found on a beach in Dubai and the chicken feather I kept will mean nothing to him, that’s when I decided to capture my memories in resin, and, like a fly caught in amber there is no order to how things were placed.

The dressing table was my mothers, I stripped back the old varnish and printed a photograph of her with her best friend from school on the top and made 72 resin buttons (one for each year of her life), each containing a scrap of lace from her wedding veil to put in the top drawer – old ladies always have a button box hidden somewhere!  I engraved the mirror with the words ALIENI IURIS – the Roman law of adoption and pinned a poem I’d written in memoriam to my dad next to the picture.

The army boots belonged to my father, I called the piece “Between a Rock and a Hard Place” – mum was his rock – lets just leave it at that”

The installation was very favourably received, people engaging with the pieces and a few tears being shed at the poem – Sarah still can’t bring herself to read it and the Depeche Mode tickets are still lost!

The saddest line I’ve ever heard,

apart from that one in Bambi

Is the bit in the Railway Children

The only film where Jenny Agutter keeps her clothes on

She’s is waiting at the station

The steam is swirling round her from the old train

Running towards him she cries “daddy, my daddy”

Even before my father died that line used to make me cry.

My father wasn’t a great man,

He died from cancer and left nothing for the world to remember him

The priest phoned me to ask for my memories

He was a stand-in priest and never knew my dad

I remembered him as a man who fixed things – Even if they
weren’t broken

Every weekend he polished his car

Each summer he grew tomatoes in the greenhouse

At the funeral we sang All Things Bright and Beautiful
It was totally inappropriate

He loved all things electronic

He loved cooking, and curries and MacEwans Export

His last words to me before he died were “I have loved you from day one”

He died and never got to meet my son

My mother and I giggled at the funeral and then we all went and got drunk

He wasn’t a great man but he was daddy, my daddy