Sometimes in Brighton we have a tendency to be attracted to the alternative. Whether this be alternative lifestyle choices, fashions or a perceived rejection of convention. Sometimes though, it takes an outsider to embrace the very consumerist culture we live in to better realise its ridiculousness and ridicule, more successfully, the very thing a lot of us try so hard to reject.
Carolyn Brown, a photographer hailing from Birmingham and recently graduated from University of Loughborough, does just this. By embracing the consumerist culture to create a brand, “Glitter Box”, her work subverts the usual rules of art gallery decorum and behaviour and actively encourages you to place her work in a consumerist mindset as a desirable object for your walls.
Even stepping into her exhibition it felt more like a shop. The slightly-too-loud music, leather sofa, and even her own presence, intentionally girly and over the top beautifully compliments her work. By creating this suspension of disbelief we forget we are in a gallery, and the viewer takes that little bit longer to realise that her work is not just pretty pink and blue photos of escapist tosh, but is what is usually considered gruesome creatures recreated as stunning objects delicately adorned with glitter and diamantes.
Wasps, flies, spiders, fish and lamb hearts are photographed with a romantic flair usually reserved for nightclub photography or advertising. Aligning these things with conventional ideas of beauty and femininity such as lace panties and flowers tricks our brain into accepting the gruesome forms and colours almost as a seductive commodity.
With her photography complemented by her silk scarves, Carolyn Brown is an artist that is well versed in her message and is slowly expanding her brand. Really, I can see her going down a similar path of Vivienne Westwood, whose subversive work was eventually embraced and accepted as popular culture despite its derogatory content. This is artwork with a serious sting in its tail and has enormous potential.
Brown has a long long way to go to be considered on that level, but considering this is the first solo exhibition after university, time is on her side.
You can see her website here: http://www.glitterboxstudio.com/