Esther Windsor

Tobi Deeson

May to September

5 May - 9 June 2006

Private View Friday 12 May 2006

1000000mph project space

open Mon-Fri. 12 - 6pm

59 Old Bethnal Green Road, London E2 6QA

Curated by Esther Windsor

Images show work at Fieldgate Gallery where Tobi showed 1000000 mph work subsequently

To be modern is to find ourselves in an environment that promises us adventure, power, joy, growth, transformation of ourselves and the world- and, at the same time threatens to destroy everything we have, everything we know, everything we are. To be modern is to be part of a universe in which, as Marx said, 'all that is solid melts into air'. (Berman: All That is Solid Melts into Air: The experience of Modernity: 1983:15)

May to September expresses the seasons of spring to autumn and takes its inspiration from the British TV sitcom, May to December (BBC 1989), about the relationship between a young girl and an old man discovering a shared love of old musicals. In this first London solo show Tobi has created a site specific installation made from flowers intricately cut from 70's bed sheets, strengthened with glue, to hang from floor to ceiling over a large plate glass mirror. The effect is of a forest of flowers, full of the promise of nature and a new spring. However on close inspection, the flowers are fake, mass-produced from cheap bed sheets and the mirror, a cold hard material only able to reflect, not grow and give new life as spring promises. Threads hold these flower fragments together in space, and perhaps in memory, and the mirror underfoot could shatter if one put a foot out of place. Small white plaster animals appear, foetus like, perhaps mutated even. These too evoke new life and beginnings but their cold small bodies, not quite of life, lie on stony ground.

The metaphors of Tobi's work evoke too the promise not just of spring but of modernity in the 70's and 80's: technology, progress, social change, travel, bold new architecture, feminism and civil rights. In the first decade of the 21st century, 'progress' is realised in the contingent conditions of capitalism and market-directed life style options and objects. As Marx reminds us, in his work on Commodity Fetishism, modern life needs modern men and women to overcome the crushing pressures and social abysses of modern life. It is this robust commitment to modernism that is needed to disentangle commodified nostalgia and personal memory, to live with anxiety about a continuously changing social landscape and the fragmentation of old certainties.

A shared social history as well as personal memories, are evoked in these flower patterned, Marks and Spencer mass produced bed sheets, common to a 70's British family life. The British Sitcom, also common to family life, has often dealt with social change through themes of individual disappointment and social failure and the courage of people in the face of their problems. There are few cultural forms that have offered a better analysis of the changing British class system, and the conflicts and prejudices it produces. Butterflies: Butterflies (BBC 1978-83) and The Good Life (BBC 1975-78) for example addressing family tensions, gender and class in suburbia and Till Death Us Do Part and Love thy Neighbour more problematically, addressing 'race relations' (ITV, 1972-76).

Tobi's work clearly references family history and personal relationships but avoids sentimentality and narcissism and instead evokes a cultural memory in a bed sheet, and a reminder that it is the shared personal and practical details of everyday life lived, in which social life, change and personal endurance are found.

Previous exhibitions and awards have included:
SPACE Open at SPACE Gallery, London, Selected by Sacha Craddock and Bea de Souza, 2002; Bursary group exhibition at the Royal British Society of Sculptors, London, 2005; Group show at The Florence Trust, London, 2002; Art on Paper at the Royal College of Art, London, 2002; Not Hiding anymore, Solo show at Rochester Art gallery, 2002.

Tobi sits on the Board of Directors for Transition Gallery, London and has undertaken art education projects including: The Whitechapel Gallery (2002) 'A' level summer workshop for the sculpture exhibition, Early One Morning; Nuneaton Museum and Gallery (2001) A weeks residency with female students with drug issues exploring the theme of the 'human form'. Tobi Deeson graduated with a 1ST Class Degree in Art and Design, from University of Hertfordshire.

1000000mph project space is committed to exploring pedagogical issues and opening opportunities to emerging artists and new audiences. May to September is accompanied by an artist-led education project considering use of sculpture in exploring history and memory.