I recently visited Ordsall Hall, Salford, to see ‘Ordering the Chaos‘ by Julie K Holt Walsh.
“Fascinated by natural objects discarded by nature, which land randomly on the ground. Walsh collects seeds, insects and other organic objects and arranges them carefully and systematically into groups, creating order from the chaos“(Salford Community Leisure, 2016).
The show was an exhibition of natural, harmless objects given a new and playfully dark role; their purpose seemingly reinvented, seed pods become the heads of carnivorous plants desperate to escape their confines, thorn-studded rose branches become a prison, bird skulls become masks reminiscent of African tribal masks under witness to unexplained rituals. We are transported to another world.
Perhaps this reinvention of objects stems form Walsh’s continual questioning of definitions and her keenness to understand art through the eyes of her students, some of whom have testimonials on her website.
The re-use of the natural was a theme that continued within the exhibition space, the natural forms of Walsh’s work, coupled with the minimalist qualities of the restored Hall building were a striking contrast to the white gallery walls and man made elements of the artwork.
In using objects of nature in her work Walsh does seem to leave an overriding sense of emptiness in her work, despite filling the exhibition space one cannot help but feel that they are but empty vessels – perhaps best evidenced in the empty seed pods. This could perhaps be linked to issues of family tragedy and childbirth which have been the driving force behind Walsh’s studio practice for many years.
Salford Community Leisure (2016) Exhibitions. Available at: http://www.salfordcommunityleisure.co.uk/culture/ordsall-hall/exhibitions (Accessed: 23 August 2016).