Miniature, luminous orange flags pepper the gallery floor; the odour from heaps of both unusually dry as well as mushy soil fills the air we breathe; small metal-cast sculptures, almost like whimsical fishing knochs, cling to the objects and walls of the space, glinting in the sunlight; inquisitive fibre-glass egrets dance across the floor, some appearing to laugh into the sky that juxtaposes the stone silence of the room. This is but a cursory glance into the complexities of the installation – an overall self-contained, staged environment that materialises as some sort of post-apocalyptic crazy golf course.
However, that air of playfulness that surrounds the exhibition is swiftly met by an unmistakable staidness, and certain urgent truths begin to froth to the surface. The at once stale and mouldy earth signals a critical loss of biodiversity in the local marshlands, directly affecting what species can any longer survive there. The neatly assembled earthen piles and large-print photographs on the wall nod to the abundant faux natural landscapes around Britain’s coastlines – our tendency as humans to romanticise what we have ultimately destroyed by elegantly framing what little remains or temporarily staging newly-crafted yet (still) unsustainable ones. These deliberate decisions of making and curation by Wetherly reveals how our own grasp for power, control and modification of the Earth’s environments has instead brought about its devastation, and an ensuing feeling of insurmountable death permeates throughout.
This is a sample of one of our issue 4 articles. Issue 4 launches digitally on Friday September 29th, with physical issues available from Thursday October 5th 2023.