30 September – 6 November 2016
9 x 9 x 9 and North Galleries, Bermondsey
Installed across the North Galleries and the 9 x 9 x 9 space, the exhibition featured new work including sculpture and large-scale installation.
Overton’s working process is driven by experiment and is often site-responsive and intuitive, beginning with the volumetric understanding of a space in three dimensions. Favouring natural or reclaimed building materials such as wooden planks, stone, glass or metal, her minimal sculptures and installations foreground the physiological encounter, using the drama of proportion, weight and balance to allow the powerful, sensory qualities and inherent associations of the materials to come through.
In the North Galleries a new series of sculptures made from marble and mirrored glass taken from a library in Columbus OH, USA, destabilise the viewer’s perception of both the works’ material and the surrounding space, as the glass is simultaneously reflective and see-through. The same wallpaper that Overton has in her own kitchen, with a pattern of botanical illustrations, covered a gallery wall, playing on notions of indoor and outdoor. With its image seen through and reflected in the sculptures, the green leafy wallpaper, whose design dates to the 1970s, creates an inviting atmosphere in the otherwise austere white gallery space. The wallpaper brings together the disparate places and materials that Overton has worked with, by creating connections between image, material and place that resonate with the artist. A working wood-burning stove installed in the exhibition filled the space with a scent of wood and the sound of crackling, further contributing to the feeling of being in a welcoming place. Stacked against the wall to form a loose grid structure, the wood logs were constantly added to the stove to keep the fire alight for the duration of the exhibition.
In the 9 x 9 x 9 gallery, Overton returned to one of her signature sculptural elements: the standard pick-up truck, an emphatic icon of America, its labouring classes and dominant car culture. In the past, she has filled their loading beds with bricks (as in a sculpture commissioned by the High Line, New York), covered them with blue tarpaulin (for an exhibition at the Power Station, Dallas) and filled the bed with pedestals (exhibited outside at Westfälischer Kunstverein, Munster) or objects found on the street. Here the vehicle was dismembered, its parts rearranged and placed back in the bed of the truck itself as a carefully balanced assemblage. This vertiginous, sculptural pile is set on a plinth thereby assuming a new role as monument.
Overton’s work, which always uses a combination of elements, some from pre-existing sculptures and others constructed during an exhibition’s installation, emerges through a responsive back-and-forth between artist, architecture and medium. In this way, her exhibitions can proceed in unexpected directions and elements can be reconfigured into different works. She has said: ‘The migration of materials is integral to the work. […] I live with [the works] for a while and then often dismantle them to create new ones. So certain materials might exist in several different pieces.‘ Virginia Overton quoted in ArtReview.com, 14 June 2016
Stove provided by Stoake, with thanks.