Dubbed, all too aptly, as “PRIMAL MUTATION” by curator melissa amore, there was indeed something in the air during the 18-month selection process, hints of decay alongside a resurgence of brutal creativity, an almost fecund rot alongside brilliant revelations of imaginings.

it is a return to the origin of language and its counterpart, translation. Cultivating an intersection where primal phenomenon and observation mutate.

How does humanity interpret the visual and read through sight? Our external world is undeniably a manifestation of collective memories. it presents itself through a myriad of forms, both imagined and through acute observation.

It is the role of the visual, one could argue, to collectively examine and anticipate its own divergent translation of the human condition. Artists re-examine both the imagined and the observed and in the result, unveil the psychology of the everyday. In this way through a process of translation, they question what is found rather than what is lost.

Humanity is surrounded by variations and modifications to the putative primal landscape. We cannot be certain whether the changes we perceive are imagined or observed, or if the causes were internal or external to us.

We seem to be mediating and oscillating between two existences, an ancient history and a progressive history. The histories we have inherited have been subjected to multiple iterations. The meaning of the past alters as we gravitate into the future. Even though we can be confident about certain historical facts, it remains speculative to access any absolute truth. With history being recorded predominantly through technological systems rather than the tangible, what will remain for our future generations and in what form will history be presented? it is beyond dispute that we need to address the future of skill and the thinking machine.

Clearly, the age of colour-saturated Type-C prints and digitalised video is being readdressed. In its place the curators found a remarkable return to the hand-of-the artist, a plethora of works via the age-old tools of charcoal and pencil. And when the digital was utilised it seemed deliberately degraded, refuting its glossy promise.

Academics, sociologists, and even arguably psychologists, could have a field day investigating the implications of these seismic shifts. A part of it may be economic – works on paper are, of course, cheaper to produce. but at the end of a period when many art schools downgraded drawings’ status from the cornerstone of art-making to a marginal alternative, it seems more likely that the strong dominance of line-work is a considered reaction to a universal predominance of electronic media and the filtering of street art, graffiti and comix culture into the arena of fine art.

Primal Mutation is not, of course, all drawing. A key rationale behind NotFair is to break open the floodgates of media, but again not dissimilar flights of dark fancy filter through to the video, installation, sculpture, photography and painting displayed in this exhibition.

Bulbous fungal forms, distended limbs and distorted physiognomies, bubbling viscous fluids, larvae plagues, stygian shadows, pungent growths, gaseous clouds, relics and reliquaries abound. There is the borderline between luminescence and lunacy, the floating notion of psychoarchitecture and alien (no doubt our own) environs. There are insectoid robots and robotic exoskeletons alongside veiled hints of humanoid erotica.

There are travelogues and maps and librettos and the detritus of otherworldly archeological digs amidst shifting clouds of ectoplasm.

This exhibition brings to light the forgotten fragility of form, and the craft of hand. The labour intensive works are provoked by an insatiable need to extend old techniques into new contexts.

It is where forms are broken down and fragmented, where invisible vibrations become modified through translations and where the faculty of sight relies on technology to interpret images. It is where concepts are born from a mutation across disciplines and patterns, and where language is re-borne through new methods of communicative devices.

Primal Mutation returns to examine old and new thinking patterns, and to represent ways of seeing and being in the new world.


Melissa Amore, Ashley Crawford & Sam Leach