The New Art Gallery

On the weekend I visited The New Art Gallery in Walsall, just a couple of trains away from Coventry.

On the fourth floor I visited Harminder Judge’s work “In This Strange House”. A collection of sculpture, moving and still images set to include ‘religious iconography and occultism, Indian culture and popular Western Culture.’ The work is of a supernatural nature; as you walk in from the lift you can hear dialogue; the kind that you’d associate with Dracula. The eery and unsettling voice. It spoke of shadows and some sort of creature.

On the first wall there is a large 4 by 6 metre (estimation) laser drawing titled ‘Hands’. This is a colour image with beams of colourful light streaming down onto the hands, as though the people are imprisoned. When stood close to this piece it is difficult to tell what the detail is of, feeling as though the darkness encapsulates you as a prisoner also.

Walking further into the space, the viewer then discovers where the narrative is being played: as an accompaniment to an image on a television screen. It was of what looked like scaffolding with a very tungsten light, creating deep shadows. I personally did not connect to this piece at all; it was a little too farfetched and supernatural, but the kind of supernatural I just could not believe.

On the wall on the right to the windows there are several 8 by 10 black and white prints; all very dark. From far back they aren’t arranged to make a pattern. Up close there does not appear to be any clear linear narrative either. Amongst the dark tones there are shapes of different parts a house like the bedroom and also of partially lit faces. This gives the impression of creatures in the shadows of the house which the audio supports well.

I picked out one image in particular which was titled ‘They Passed Against Spikes, Relaxed’ which looks like a pathway through over growth. However, the crosses reminded me of the what Christians believe to be the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, in the sense that he suffered but remained calm.

The main eyecatcher in the exhibition is the large sculpture. It looks like part of a wooden structure that had been ripped from its original origin. For some reason I got a Wizard of Oz sort out illusion of a tornado tearing it away. I’m not totally sure of what its significance was, however, the chippings on the floor gave it  more atmosphere, as though torn away.

Next to this sculpture were more televisions with moving images; these were more abstract and did not have a clearcut narrative which added to the hysteria of what Judge was trying to convey. There wasn’t any seating which meant that the viewer was on edge and uncomfortable standing to watch it; not being able to concentrate on one screen as well as though the viewer is pulled into a more hysteric atmosphere.

I felt that with the space the artist had, it was very spread out which compromised what I felt the work had to convey; not only this but there was a lot of light going into this gallery so I felt that had there been a little more darkness a viewer could experience the supernatural a little more because I felt that it was rather “look at this work in this room”.

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