ORGAN THING: Let the gin run free, a drop of mother’s ruin and a lot lot more at The House Mill Gallery, London…

Mother’s Ruin at The House Mill Gallery, London E3 –  You have to like that you don’t quite know where the exhibition starts and what was already here before the actual art pieces were added, surely those old gin boxes are part of it aren’t they? I guess the whole building is part of it, this isn’t just a white cube, this isn’t a blank canvas of a space, I like the way this building has been used by the artists, that no one has thought to dust the windows, I like the conversations the pieces are having with the building, with the industry, with each other.  I like the history in here, both in terms of the building itself and the art within I like the way art is hiding in plain sight, that truths are. I like the intentions, the questions asked, the ambiguity of objects placed, the ambiguity of the whole, I like that this exhibition really couldn’t have happened anywhere other than in this building, an old mill, an old gin distillery. Gin? A drop of mother’s ruin indeed.

Ruin? Ruined? Motherhood? “Are all the artists mothers?” “Not necessarily” came the answer from curator Julia Maddison.

This is a show that has Julia’s fingerprint all over it, the curation, the selection, the hang, the deliberately intriguing vagueness, the questions that are answered with more questions, the hints of playfulness when it really isn’t that playful. We were told to expect a “multi-disciplinary group show exploring the difficult and many layered topic of Mother’s Ruin, from Hogarth’s Gin Lane to Lockdown poverty”.

The show is happening in an eighteenth century tidal mill, the mill itself is amazing, you can smell the sea outside, you can sense the history inside, the marks on the walls, the little bits of old graffiti scratched into the wood by the clock-watching workers long gone, you can sense the work that went on. This is the right show in the right space.

“…perhaps women secrete their own despair in the process of being mothers. Perhaps they lose their rightful kingdom in the despair of every day.”  Marguerite Duras, from Practicalities

Is this about motherhood?  “Not necessarily” we’re told, “but then again i t could well be” (surely it is). Are all the artists mothers? “Does it matter?” Gin? Mother’s Ruin? Does the lack of colour say anything? Where’s the colour? Where’s the paint? Ruination? Nags? Witches? The preferred tipple?  Shoes, there are always shoes, shoes, the Ruination of women? Surely the (art) work comes first, above it all? A Paula Rego priority? Nothing else should get in the way? Truths, lived experience, paint, pleasure, priorities. Is it all despair but then maybe it isn’t my place to comment on the skin shed or on anything else really? For what it may just be worth, this is a fine show, an impressive show, a beautifully curated show and if it is the despair of every day life, if it is the process of life itself, the process of being a mother, the idea of it, or this exhibition being something far more than just interesting art, more than just interesting things placed in  interesting ways in an interesting space then. 

A cup of tea and a slice of life, that’s nice, would you like a drop of mother’s ruin in that?  And then you start to look a little closer, read a little more into it, about recent reversals, about so many things and well does it really matter about what’s said here? This , for what any of it is worth, is a damn fine art exhibition   (sw)       

The group show features art from Alice Herrick, Carol Wyss, Caroline Gregory, Caroline Halliday, Gilli Salvat, Guinevere Clark, Julia Maddison, Kate Kotcheff, Lito Apostolakou, Mandy Prowse, Maria Teresa Gavazzi, Mary Spence, Natalia Zagorska-Thomas, Rachel Pearcey, Rebekah Dean, Sooz Belnavis and Sripey Kemfor. The show is curated by Rebekah Dean & Julia Maddison.

Mill House Gallery is at Three Mill Lane, Bromley-by-Bow, London, E3 3DU The exhibition continues until 17th July. The space is open Thursday to  Sunday, 12-4pm with an artists’ Talk on Saturday 16th July, 2-4pm.

As always, click on an image to see it all or to run the fractured slide show…

Footmote: If a bear shits in the woods and no one is there to see it, has it really happened? All we’re doing here is laying down some kind of record, an acknoledgement that all these great art shows happened, that these artists came together again and again (and again). Many of these shows we cover are covered by no one else, we are the only record of that shit the bear took, if we don’t do it with our broken phones and our fractured words, then who the hell will? 

2 thoughts on “ORGAN THING: Let the gin run free, a drop of mother’s ruin and a lot lot more at The House Mill Gallery, London…

  1. Pingback: ORGAN THING: Ruins of Time, installation and lot more in a 13th century tower, the latest in a beautiful series of site-specific projects by artists of the LME… | THE ORGAN

  2. Pingback: ORGAN THING: Did the sky move for you? An artist-led sculpture trail in North London. Istallation, performance, ribbons, plates, a heron all during London Sculpture Week and until September 18th… | THE ORGAN

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