Jemima Brown's solo exhibition at Sidney Cooper Gallery in Canterbury really does mark the end of and era. Or, more like 150 years.
A road trip through the slovenly poetics of British banality, this exhibition of recent sculpture and multimedia works takes in everything from the narrative aesthetics of Nell Dunn's 1960s classic kitchen sink novel 'Poor Cow', to the terrifying rightwing political realities of contemporary Kent, where Jemima lives and works.
Yes, there are many fantastic pieces in the show, but the work that once again asserted Brown's astounding capacity as an artist for me was seeing her homage to Brâncuși's 'Endless Column' ensemble (1938) re-realised as a tower of crappy plastic laundry baskets filled with clothes needing washing. The endless column is a motif to which Jemima Brown has returned periodically—and a personal passion of mine. But here, especially in context. its utterly consummate, a loving nod to a much admired work of mid-century modernism that simultaneously sifts it through the filter of a feminist gaze.
Sadly, this is to be the last ever exhibition in the gallery. After a history of some 150 years, dating back to the city's original art school, and for decades the exhibition space of Canterbury Christ Church University, the Sidney Cooper Gallery will finally close and become a rehearsal space for the Marlowe Trust. Small consolation that it will remain somehow serving culture.
There is a certain irony that government funding cuts to cultural budgets play a role in the demise of the gallery. One can't help imagine that the spies of frothing-Tory, Brexit-loving political forces saw the likes of this show coming and wanted to make sure that no artist would ever again present such cutting satire in her work...
Still, you have until 15 June 2019 to make it to Canterbury to see the show. You could even come home with a lovely tea towel—or a sofa if you're really flush—printed Jemima's amazing design featuring the "players" of British politics in their full chintzy horror.