From Myth To Earth

by Steve

Sculptures at the From Myth To Earth installation

The other day I stumbled across a little bit of Colombia on the Holborn Viaduct at the Koppel Project Hive, a gallery hosting From Myth To Earth, an installation from the artists Sol Bailey Barker and Gabriella Sonabend.

Well, when I say stumbled across, I was actively waved into the building by the artists themselves, eager to show their work to unsuspecting members of the public wandering about on their lunch break.

Two years ago the two artists visited Colombia, to explore its landscapes and meet its people, tracking down the histories and mythologies that underpin the country. From Myth To Earth is their response to that research, a mix of painting, sculpture and writing that attempts to articulate the relationships between place, history and the present, and ultimately the people that underpin those relationships.

Walking down to a basement space you encounter an immersive installation piece consisting of several sculptures. They look in part like archaeological artifacts, but also have the feel of those pieces of folk or outsider art made up of recycled materials. There is an air of the uncanny and contradictory about them, maybe found, maybe crafted, always there and newly created.

The sculptures are a response to the landscapes the artists encountered, and visitors can sit in a tin shack and listen to various short stories that bring a voice to those places.

Back upstairs and there are a series of portraits. They are intensely human, the subjects looking intently from the canvases, brought into sharp relief by the more impressionistic backgrounds that allude to the symbolism and mystery of the basement installation. From the myths and memories the people emerge, the people shaped by, and shaping, the sense of place and sense of history.

The juxtaposition of strange symbolic artefacts and the tender portraits brings everything together. One cannot exist without the other. And this helps the exhibition feel like much more than an example of cultural tourism. It instead conveys how place, myth and people interact, and that to truly understand one you need to understand them all.

The installation somehow manages to both articulate the particular nature of the Colombian experience whilst also illustrating the importance of myth and place in all our lives.

The artists are on hand to answer questions and are incredibly friendly. It is wonderful to not only see art amongst the offices and coffee shops of this part of London, but to see art that is this welcoming, inclusive and open. Is it well worth a look if you are in the area.

From Myth To Earth is at the Koppel Project Hive, 26 Holborn Viaduct, EC1A 2AQ until 29 October.

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