Tom Martin at Oriel Mwldan

Tom Martin  Wunderkammer

This is a lovely show. I spent ages in the gallery just examining tiny bits and pieces and trying to work out how he had put some of the things together. What follows is the review written for the Tivyside.

Though there is no translation of the title on display at Wunderkammer, the exhibition now showing at Oriel Mwldan, its meaning is well known in Continental museums to mean a cabinet of wonders, or curiosities. Printmaker Tom Martin’s current show very much lives up to this description, with some exquisitely made curiosities, in a collection of rainbow, hand-painted work. Many of the items and compositions are striking and beautiful and the word ‘curious’ is apposite here, since much of what one sees is very much out of the ordinary, and surprising. Available close to the entry point are white cotton gloves which viewers are invited to slip on, should they be tempted to play with what they see hanging on the walls and sitting on tables. Even opening the white pristine drawers and moving their contents about is not off  limits.  In fact this is exactly what the artist wants,  that the viewer might be moved to change and rearrange what is there for their own pleasure, to create something new by extracting the small pieces and placing them differently, thereby creating a whole new design. Moving them around can become a mesmerising experience, similar to one’s feeling as a child when resisting the end of a game, with ‘just one more’.

In a glass cabinet filled with magical items, tiny proscenium theatres have mini-characters moving across the stages. These are constructions which come out of matchboxes! Also in the cabinet is a  Myriorama, a dinky box of 16 handmade screen prints whitch fit together in any arrangement. Everything throughout the show has been created by hand by the artist; like the ‘Pyramid Grid’ which appears to be a brilliant multi-coloured square, until when getting closer to it, the squares within the square are seen to be tiny open boxes, each filled with miniature pyramids.

This is a genuinely exciting show and a free artist-led workshop is coming up in the next few weeks for students of schools and colleges. For further information on this please contact Isie Smathers, Mwldan gallery co-ordinator on 01239 623929 or email isie@mwldan.co.uk  Wunderkammer is showing at Oriel Mwldan until 22 March.

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