Linda Williams, one of the final year Wiltshire College art students exhibiting at Rook Lane Art, has caused a bit of a stir with her controversial piece ‘Brickworks’. From a distance, it’s a selection of London bricks scattered in front of a pillar. But upclose it becomes apparent that there are words inscribed into the stone. Based around the theme of marriage and divorce, the bricks read: ‘Love’ ‘you’ ‘me’ and ‘Fuck’.
When I first noticed I laughed (with slight shock) and then wondered if this dark piece worked within this light, white space. Of course it works – because it’s an artist’s expression in an art gallery – but it suddenly gave new meaning to the space.
I was reminded of a school trip with my art class, aged 12, to the Sensation exhibition at the Royal Academy of Art. The exhibition included Tracy Emin’s infamous tent, entitled: Everyone I have ever slept with (1963-1995) alongside Marcus Harvey’s Myra – an image of the murderer Myra Hindley’s face – made from hundreds of childs’ handprints. These pieces shocked and upset the public (and caused a media-frenzy) but also reminded us that art is sometimes meant to cause a reaction; a stir.
Though the issue is really whether children should be exposed to this work. It could be argued that censorship encourages curiosity and that allowing young people to see these explicit works is ok – if they’re offered an explanation. But it could also be argued that it will stimulate interest in topics that are best left until the child has grown up.
With Linda William’s piece at Rook Lane – we opted for a sign on the gallery door warning parents that some of the work surrounds adults themes. It is then left to their own discretion as to whether or not it is appropriate for their child to see.
And so on the subject of expletives within art – I conclude that where there is context, it is fine. But then artists like Tracey Emin plonk them so frivolously into artwork that you begin to wonder if stimulating shock is the only motive…
Above: Tracey Emin’s Quilt.