All Alone Together – the exploration of the three states of humanity

All Alone TogetherThe Gibberd Gallery in Harlow, Essex, is currently playing host to a forward thinking sculpture show which has successfully echoed the ethos of valuing participatory arts.

Many have been involved with the show including 10 young unemployed people earning NVQ’s in construction and the local youth offending group using their hours of community service to create art.

The exhibition explores the three states of humanity – Single, together and group. Each has a characteristic that allows the participant to be in each state and experience their own body in relation to sculptural forms as well as other.

Creative bunkers are available to book for meetings or hobby groups or even by yourself! So far local artists using the space for drawing and council members meeting for official business. Local theatre group Livewire have been involved creating improvised performances that involve the public becoming part of the performance, being interrogated or approached as allies.

The exhibition titled All Alone Together is by artist Nick Turvey and is open from the 20 June to 23 August.

As the title of the exhibition suggests, we are all engaged in the impossible task of trying to understand what it is like to be somebody else. Though doomed to failure, perhaps it is this communal effort that counts, with the realisation of all that we share.

As individuals, or as nations, it is all too easy to retreat behind our defences, into our armour, dividing the world into “Me” and “Not-Me”. But the more ‘security’ we get, the more we feel we need. Everyone looks like a potential threat, when seen through a fortified slit window. You can try it, in this show. These installations are tools for psychological self-experimentation, rather than historical re-creations.

Clearly, they invoke memories and associations. Many of Harlow New Town’s original inhabitants had first hand experience of Andersen shelters, and their children lived with the simmering paranoia of the Cold War. The exhibition offers an opportunity to explore how these images and ideas have shaped our thinking, and to re-write some of that conditioning.

The work began with the desire to make the gallery a place of meeting and action, rather than of the solitary consumption of art. It has already succeeded beyond expectation, with a huge variety of individuals with different agendas volunteering their time to construct the installations, generously sponsored by local businesses. New friendships have been made, new skills acquired, and new interests discovered. And it continues during the two months of the exhibition, with all three installation spaces made freely available to any individual or group that wishes to organise an activity. So far, they are scheduled to host drumming, a choir, book groups, interactive theatre, and the occasional council meeting.

If we can turn swords into ploughshares in this way, convert confining and defensive architecture into places for creativity and communication, then can we start to build a better society? Madly utopian? At least it’s a worthwhile question for art to be asking.

Nick Turvey has worked with a wide range of materials and media, from 16mm film to jelly, and graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2006. Recent exhibitions include solo shows at The Print Room, London and ASC, London, as well as group shows Interesting Times, Leicester; Surface, Burghley House; Sculptour, Phoenix Gallery, Belgium; and The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. A large-scale outdoor sculpture of his, ‘Methuselah’, is permanently installed in Harlow at Newhall.

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