June 18 until August 8, 2015
In this provocatively titled exhibition, Caroline McCarthy questions the increasing demand on art to justify itself in terms of economic or social outcomes by suggesting art as an activity that has value in its freedom to have no 'use' at all.
Deliberately working from source material that has a functional value, McCarthy detaches it from that function, and reconstitutes it within a discourse emerging from an engagement with art practice, one in which the problems of representation, illusion, abstraction and transformation play a central role.
Her paintings on show here draw on adhesive tape commonly found in DIY stores. Meticulously painted, these works present an illusionistic melee of different tapes with reference to trompe l‘oeil still life. At the same time, rendering in paint allows the usual practical associations of their colour coding to be extended into a visual language that takes on the wider concerns and associations of the medium. We may be aware that the chemical make-up of the material used to effect the illusion is similar to that of the tape depicted, as if the object referent has been dissolved and remade to appear outwardly the same, albeit now operating with and within altered relations.
A comparable transformation took place to the screwdriver that was to become the model for the work Useless, after which this exhibition has been named. Bent through its failure to meet the expected requirements of a screwdriver (opening a tin) it turned into something else, something that had, for McCarthy, a quality of its own; a right to exist in its own terms. In casting and replicating this object by hand hundreds of times over like a bent-screwdriver production line, McCarthy makes an emphatic endorsement of that right.
Broken shoelaces, rusty nails, old paint pots have also undergone transformations, ones which in turn serve to both amplify and celebrate their uselessness. There is purpose here and it is a purpose that is bound up with the process of making, meaning and conjecture.