Home is where the heart is, and artists Dale Fearnley and Laura Mahony have opened theirs to the outside world. A collaborative project with Ian Malicom, GAST is a unique exhibition situated inside the couple’s home and includes film, sculpture, installation and most interestingly, live performance.
Fearnley, Mahony and Malicom are all members of General Practice, a collective created by graduates from the University of Lincoln. Their aim is to encourage more creativity in the city and to create a student led art scene similar to that of Nottingham.
Once you walk through the front door of the small terraced house, a white sheet leads you down a hallway into the dining room. The mismatched chairs surrounding the table point towards an unusual and disturbing scene. A women in a white dress lies facedown into a plate of spaghetti, her blonde curls merging with the strands until it is hard to see where one ends and the other begins.
This is actually a performance by Mahony that is drawn from her childhood experiences. Her impressive stillness is overpowering, she draws you in and keeps you captivated without ever moving a muscle. How long will she stay this way? Fearnley, a sculptor who for tonight is acting as a guide, informs me the performance will last until the end of the show; and there’s still another two and a half hours left to go.
Malicom also works with performance. Using a 1930s style radio, he transmits unintelligible noise from an upstairs bedroom to the living room. The unsettling chatter of the radio combined with the draft coming through the cling film covered window creates a sense of desertion. As though this is a house long abandoned.
Surprises are around every corner and all of the space is well utilised. Even the bathroom holds sculptural pieces, including a run-down chair directly opposite the toilet, possibly the perfect way to make anybody uncomfortable in a homely setting.
The influence of surrealism is evident. Under the stairs hang bowler hats next to a pile of apples and a pipe reminiscent of Magritte’s The Treachery of Images. Considering you’re meant to decide for yourself whether the objects scattered around are art works or household items this is the perfect metaphor.
But what is the reasoning behind all of this confusion? The answer is actually rather clear cut. The artists want you to reconsider the place you call your safe haven, and to ponder the nuclear family and Stepford ideal.
Although they partly chose this setting for budgetary reasons, Fearnley and Mahony have successfully made their everyday home into a surreal work of art. The building retains the essence of those who have moved on, and the memories left behind. General Practice have harnessed this and turned it into a comment on our perception of home and family life; we cannot possibly know what goes on behind closed doors. If this is the future of art in Lincoln, then it is a promising future indeed.
GAST took place on 20 March at the artists’ home in Lincoln and ran as part of a series of exhibitions called Re>fer>al, the next one is 10 June. For more information visit www.general-practice.net.
1. Dale Fearnley and Laura Mahony, GAST. Courtesy of the artists.