“I love this exhibition. It feels like home,” remarked Barnaby Simpson, one of the four founders of the now well established Corridor Gallery.
From the outside one could easily question the wisdom of remarking how a collection of sculptures created with varying degrees of surrealism could ever be considered homely, but actually I understand exactly what he means.
Chris MacDonald is a fascinating man with an equally fascinating upbringing. Born in 1938 to the “confusion of war” he is an artist who has explored a many faceted career, working as a labourer, clerk, soldier, teacher, craftsman and an engineer before turning his attention to his artwork. What followed was an exploration of technique and crafts that allowed the creation of work that seems organic and sincere in its origin from within the artist.
MacDonald is a great believer in storytelling to accompany his sculptures and insists that anyone who buys a piece hears the story behind its creation before being sold. This might seem over the top to some, but it complements his style of work, incredibly personal musings that the owner should understand before committing to taking his work off his hands. This feeling of home is exacerbated by the slightly beaten old armchair present in the gallery for people to sit and meditate in the space to his objects.
Personally, I wish it was clearer what messages he wants to put across with each piece without having to hear a story. There are, no doubt, fascinating moments and messages he wants to portray, but is lost sometimes in the piece themselves. “Tuba Man” for example has references to military conquests with the Tuba, juxtaposed with the freshness of the flowers. However, this was a piece of information cobbled together from other’s prompts from conversations with the artist rather than something I decoded from the work itself.
This criticism in itself portrays the whole appeal of MacDonald’s work. It is as much the story of the piece as the piece itself and the experience of hearing the story behind the work that complements the visuality of the piece itself.
Overall, an exhibition I would recommend visiting even just briefly. Being present in the gallery certainly gives a feeling of homely serenity to the viewer, and complements the space well. A welcome oasis from the hectic nature of Brighton.
Chris MacDonald will be present every Sunday for the run of the exhibition in the space where he will be there to tell his stories of the pieces.