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Abigail Fallis exhibition is pure animal magic

IT is quite appropriate that Abigail Fallis's new exhibition appears on the same pages as an interview with Virginia McKenna.

Abigail Fallis

IT is quite appropriate that Abigail Fallis's new exhibition appears on the same pages as an interview with Virginia McKenna.

The artist, like the film star, is much concerned with environmental matters including the over-fishing of the seas and the experiments done on animals in the name of progress.

In one piece, Looking Glass, which resembles an insect’s compound eye, lots of adjoined transparent compartments each hold a glass model of the eye of an endangered species.

The title of the piece mirrors the title of the whole exhibition, Fallis in Wonderland, which reflects the Gloucestershire artist’s interest in nature and history and the legacy of Lewis Carroll, creator of the Alice stories.

Why the dodo? Because, according to Abigail, the man also known as Charles Dodgson had a stammer and would refer to himself as Do-Do-Dodgson. The dodo joke he told against himself.

Damien Hirst is a great fan of Abigail Fallis and has indeed mentored her. You can see where their interests overlap - the use of animal products (Fallis has cast fish skeletons in bronze) and the blend of seriousness and humour.

The exhibition, which runs at Opus Fine Art, Milburn House, Dean Street, Newcastle, until May 27, is full of talking points.

There’s a Victorian doll, its face built up to look like a pig, sitting in a period display cabinet, and a giant representation of a pig’s heart, a comment on the use of the animal’s organs in human transplant operations.

Holy Mackerel, comprising a silver sardine tin containing a flash of neon inside a vanity case, reflects the artist’s ability to see beauty where others might not.

There is more evidence of this on Forth Street, Newcastle, where Abigail’s sculptural tower of supermarket trolleys is the much talked-about temporary stand-in for Edouardo Paolozzi’s bronze Vulcan, currently off on tour.

It’s an exhibition which might have you exclaiming both in delight and disgust but there’s no doubting the artist’s skill and ingenuity.

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