Exhibition review: Charlotte Cullen at Assembly House
March 14, 2016
“It looks soft to touch before I remember it is glass and I remind myself that desire is a construct and that I must not trust it…”
On Friday we saw the opening of Charlotte Cullen’s exhibition ‘Please, Be Gentle’ at Assembly House. The Huddersfield based artist has produced an exhibition visually delicate and emotive, which sits perfectly inside the raw walls of the Assembly House space.
For those of you unaware of Assembly House, it is an artist-led studio space in Armley, on the outskirts of town. The building, previously a textile mill, is still fairly untouched leading to an affordable space to present work such as Charlotte’s. With their belief that diversity enriches artistic practice its clear to see why the mixed, foraged materials Charlotte uses for her work fits right in.
With the exhibition beginning in the social space before the main exhibition room, visitors are encouraged to read an extract by Cullen before going on to view the work. It seems that the literature has just as much importance as the art. The extract, poetically written and in the style of what one would interpret as an internal monologue, written on the wall faintly causing one to get up close and near to the words.
“A glass bottle missed my head and smashed against the wall behind me as tyres sped away and I lent down to inspect the broken pieces as the last drops of liquid purged themselves in the open air…”
Upon entering the main exhibition space, two pieces immediately stand out. The first is Operation Wandering Soul, a piece that is reminiscent of the works of praised female artists Tracey Emin and Sarah Lucas but with less grit and more serenity. The inflatable mattress, creating an obstacle in the centre of the space, provides a platform for a shattered mirror reflecting the space or viewer, depending on their position, in tatters. The second being The Lovers, another piece central in the space made from tar securing chains coming down from the roof and from some burnt PVC plastic. One of the most intriguing factors of Cullen’s work are the names of the pieces that add another dimension to them. Maybe It’s Witchcraft for instance, a lipstick stain on the wooden panels of the window, is a playful take on the famous Maybelline tagline and features one of the brands many lipsticks.
Looking upon the piece Preparing The Sylph that consisted of 3 Ballet barres varnished with wood varnish and finished off with car paint whilst Swan Lake was playing out of the speakers added a performance art expectancy from the static work. Whether intentional or not, it is clear to see Charlotte’s work is not just visually stimulating but each piece is carefully thought out, from the materials used to the name it is given.
The exhibition is on for only a short period of time ending on Friday 18th March so make sure you get yourself to Assembly House quickly to enjoy the work. Viewing can be made by appointment only. The artist herself will also be conducting a talk on Thursday 17th March at 7pm. Find out more here.