Jumble is an exhibition of artists who take a look at ideas of community, traditions and rituals in Britain in the wake of the jubilee. The show holds up the remnants of a disunited Kingdom, a place that is fracturing under the strain of one flag and looks at ideas of community and tradition that both disrupt and strengthen the nation. In 1981 we were told that there was nothing like a royal occasion to unite the nation. But things have changed. This time around there was not the flag-waving, bunting-bearing cake and sandwich-laden crowds that we all remember (albeit hazily) from 1977.
’ work has this sense of something long passed. Paintings of a Swansea high-rise landscape are interspersed with images of a Jubilee past; scrawls of 1977 slogans vie for attention with remnants of a union jack. The ideals of better homes for the working class in the 60s led to the tenement block with clean vertical and horizontal lines and communal areas for tenants. The subsequent failure of a lot of these idealistic projects is rooted in the ‘urban hieroglyphics’ that cover Catrin’s paintings. The whole Jubilee 2002 was tinged with nostalgia, it was surrounded by flag-waving jingoism that struck a hollow note in Wales, but in these paintings this patriotism seems rooted very firmly in the past. Even the anarchy scrawls are voices from yesterday.
’ series of photographs End of The Row
throw up all sorts of complicated proposals. Alongside the testament to the industrial changes in South Wales where these terraces sprang up in the late 1800s, the photographs also point to a decline in social interaction on the streets. Gossiping neighbours have long since been replaced by reality TV and soaps as we begin to live our lives vicariously. This may have long been the case though previously it was gossip at the heart of this process. Coverage of the recent Jubilee has highlighted this decline. Jubilee Street in Aberdare had no street party. End of the Row
has a kind of finality about it that makes a comment on the lives lived behind closed doors.
In Edward Adam
’s work a girl’s birthday party is filmed on super 8 film and the footage of the candle blowing is looped. There is a sense of nostalgia in both the quality of the film and the innocence of the girl depicted repeatedly extinguishing the candles on the cake. It appears as a universal back garden, with references for more than one generation. The piece points to another tradition, another marker that we use to navigate our lives. Birthdays, along with Christmas, weddings and christenings punctuate our lives as events that are recorded for the family album. This footage has a particular link to a time before the all-seeing eyes of CCTV cameras that automatically record indiscriminately.
On the final day of the exhibition the gallery is taken over by a Summer Fête organised and presented by artists. Gordon Dalton
’s decorates the gallery with non-celebratory bunting. This nostalgic Jubilee paraphernalia spells out the repeat to fade lyrics from the Sex Pistols God Save the Queen
. No Future
hangs over our heads like an echo of 1977.
A tradition with only one precedent (2001), the Summer Fête is a gregarious mix of self-mockery and unabashed fun. The focus of the day is getting involved, whether that is through participating in the games and stalls at the gallery or sitting soaking up the atmosphere. Rounding off the day’s events is an evening of entertainment at Canton Labour Club with a mix of ‘talented’ artists and entertainment.