Anne Hardy (b.1970) is a London-based photographer and visual artist who has attracted international acclaim for her large-scale photographic works. Twin Fields, a specially-commissioned exhibition at The Common Guild, marks the artist's first time exhibiting in Scotland (with a twist). Rachel Boyd reviews:
Within their Glaswegian context, it is perhaps fair to say that Anne Hardy’s installations at The Common Guild evoke a phrase once coined by Charles Rennie Macintosh; ‘part seen, part imagined’. Twin Fields presents Hardy’s debut not only in Scotland but in sculpture too. The sculptural structures of concrete, plywood, metal and tape (foraged from the streets in and around her London studio) often take years to come into contact with their audience; documented and decimated within seconds via the medium of photography.
The exhibition announces itself in a puddle of concrete, seen as you enter the gallery space. Constructs like this one refer to the ‘worlds’ of interpretation and imagination we experience viscerally as well as physically - the titular ‘twin fields’ to which Anne Hardy’s exhibition refers. Concrete is a solid material which often connotes a ‘building’ of something. A fan of literature, Hardy is invested in the ‘fictive space’ that have foundations in with plot lines and resonate - or ‘build themselves’ - in our imagination. Cyan carpeting interludes the tactile concrete crumble, strangely balancing two green balloons. I’m drawn instinctively to a trio of colour: blue-grey-green. These brighter colours cut through the banality of the concrete here; bringing attention to a playful ode to LEGO-blocks - It acts as nothing more, nothing less, than a experiment in composition. Admittedly, this concept is altogether more tangible in the larger scale installation in the next room.
Her ground-floor installation is a building without walls, yet it’s notably well-composed from every angle. These compositions take dimensional and raggedy forms. Blankets are flung across open beams and bits of papery, textured ephemera litter the floor. Lightbulbs are aligned at odd intervals, shining a yellowish light certain peculiar bits of tack. It isn’t a space that works well in company; if you visit, come alone. Like reading a book, the space between the viewer and artwork is made intimate, curious, and overwhelmingly personal - and what is it, really? Abandoned items are born into more abandoned things.
Previously, Hardy’s photography explored the idea of what it is to be alone. Yet with this exhibition, it is clear to see a shift in her work. Her photography offered a chance for an audience to view her built environments from a distance; these new, sculptural structures offer an opportunity to physically interact with her work from differing perspectives. The downstairs installation feels like more of a second-hand experience - forcing the viewer to look upon a place that has long been left behind.
Upstairs in The Common Guild, and there lies an open invitation for the viewer to physically inhabit her ‘fictive space’ first-hand. By contrast, this install is framed by a cast of numbered panels. The structure in itself is meticulously built and specifically designed to be safe. Unlike anything Hardy has ever made before, it is designed to hold people. Once inside, you’re exposed to an audio of heavy, industrial instrumentals. Sawing wood; scraping of metal; thumping footsteps; a gasp. Close the door behind you, and you're left in almost complete darkness, bar the white light which seeps through a tiny gap between you and the outside world. That’s where the walls close in.
Standing in that hollow cabin, Hardy’s intentions for Twin Fields suddenly become clear. Whilst the two installations - one upstairs, one downstairs, are kept in separate rooms, they are not so disparate in terms of what they represent. While her environments might appear foreign at first glance, the bright colours and open-plan space of the first installation put the viewer at a sort of familial ease. The second installation, on the upper floor, forces the viewer to deal with the disconcerting themes of abandonment - of something dark, insular and often, unnerving.
'Twin Fields' is showing at The Common Guild until the 16th of August.
All photos from Anne Hardy, 'TWIN FIELDS' (detail), 2015. Exhibition at The Common Guild. Courtesy of the artist and Maureen Paley, London. Photographs by Anne Hardy and Angus Hill.