Cullinan Richards

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The Mead Gallery, in Warwick Arts Centre, has commissioned artists
Cullinan + Richards to create a new installation for the gallery.
The final product, Girl Rider, opened at the weekend, on Saturday 12 January.

Girl Rider uses the sport of horse-diving, a 1920s Atlantic City stunt, as a foundation for a web of installation; furniture, bricks, wood sculpture, light installation and painting all receive a spot of glory in the work, swelling together into a visual delight. The artists light the work themselves using their own light installations, hanging low from the ceiling and mingling with the tall freestanding wooden plaques which paintings are hung on. Furniture sits upon painted bricks, and wooden sculptures are placed arbitrarily around the room. The materials of this installation work effortlessly together, augmenting our ideas surrounding the relationships between these different materials. Yet, painting can be seen as the queen bee of the artists' medium; they paint on top of woodwork and bricks, paint depictions of horse-diving on canvas, and paint thickly on installation materials; so much so, that at times, black paint appears as bubbling oil. Indeed, the inclusion of the other materials seems to be a way of adding a little honey to Cullinan and Richard's artistic hive of painting. For the artists, the exhibition can still be seen as primarily about painting.

As a whole, the installation whispers of delicacy and vulnerability. One would think that the artists had sewn the materials together with their hands, a vulnerability which, according to the artists, is a vital part of the whole work. The four-piece wooden structure in the centre of one of the rooms manages to marry angular framework with the most astounding cascading effect; as one stands from the lowest sculpture and lets their eyes wander to the top of the last and tallest sculpture, one is hit with this sweeping impression. Further, the interacting works of Girl Rider are no way instructional or heavy-handed - instead, one feels that the materials embrace one another with a delicate touch. Whilst the installation itself speaks of height, a clear factor in horse-diving, it remains light on its feet. The individual pieces are placed in such a way that a meandering path is created for the viewer, and it is a wonderful experience to walk through.

Cullinan + Richards intimated that they believe in leaving room for the viewer to be imaginative in the viewing process, to have their own ideas about the concepts within the work; there is no fixed answer. This may be due to the somewhat organic process the artists have in putting the installation together. Cullinan + Richards work on and make the exhibition themselves and are always present throughout the exhibition making process. They begin with no finite concept of how the work will look finished. It is not until that last brick is down, or the place to hang the last painting is picked, that they themselves realize the end product. And one feels this sincerity in the installation; the individual pieces are not forcibly laced together, but allowed to naturally find their own place to sit amongst their colleagues.

Girl Rider is a success in its use of gallery space, and in its illustration of material relationships. If horse-diving is about taking a leap of faith, then Girl Rider has avoided any such leap; Cullinan + Richards effectively provide a steady platform on which the viewer can walk peacefully, and enjoy the elegant scenery of a clever and multifaceted installation. 

Freya Smaill

Cullinan + Richards
The Mead Gallery
Warwick Arts Centre
University of Warwick
Coventry,
CV4 7AL
T: +44 (0)247 652 4524

Freya E. Smaill is currently in her final year of studying History of Art at Warwick University.
Writing on a freelance basis, she is based in London and the West Midlands.
Freya is also involved in exhibition work, including the Venice Biennale, 2007.

Posted by editorial on January 16, 2008 04:07 AM | Add a Comment

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