The Bluecoat’s autumn season showcases the work of a truly multifaceted artist: Tim Spooner: A New Kind of Animal is an exhibition as peculiar as it is fun. Spooner’s DIY aesthetic of hand-drawn notes and puppets have exhibited across Europe and Asia, while his mechanical creatures are celebrated for injecting white cube spaces with a playfulness and unpredictability, confronting audiences’ expectations of what sculpture is and can be.
Featuring over 190 works in drawing, painting, collage, sculpture and objects previously used in performances, the exhibition is an extensive survey of Spooner’s oeuvre. His 2-dimensional and wall-mounted work is often quite small in scale but richly detailed. Despite their illustrative quality, the pieces often feature surreal elements, colourful creatures and carefully considered mark-making.
The exhibition is spread across the three rooms of Bluecoat’s downstairs galleries. The first, smallest room displays the whimsical nature of the work perfectly, with small works on the wall arranged in a line around the room at average eye level. This layout lends itself to creating narratives for the works, giving us new characters and their bizarre qualities as we move around the room. The second and third rooms continue in the same vein with the addition of animatronic sculptures. These come as little furry creatures with spindly limbs, which roll around, shuffle and twitch on the floor of the gallery in unpredictable ways. There is a definite element of humour in the piece with the sculptures having a pet-like quality, eliciting a sense of sympathy for their helpless acrobatics.
There is a freshness in Tim Spooner’s work, a directness of thought that does not appear to be unnecessarily filtered through layers upon layers of conceptualisation. The artist is interested in the ways in which we try to explain the world, such as through creation myths or metaphysics, but he does so with a purity of expression as well as a fascination for the materials he uses. From these materials and experimentation come what Spooner refers to as “collections of sculptures and objects which come together into ideas for possible universes.” These universes range from emotive to serious and intimate, but always with a wink.
A national touring exhibition, A New Kind of Animal was co-commissioned by Bluecoat and London’s Southwark Park Galleries. The exhibition arrives in Liverpool after a summer exhibiting down South in Southwark’s galleries.