Lucy Wright | Bling! | 29th March- 1st April
Artist and researcher Lucy Wright‘s practice is focused on exploring the slippery- and divisive- term, ‘folk’. Rather than viewing folk as a specific vernacular or style, or a particular set of rustic artefacts once gathered by Victorian collectors and then promptly preserved in aspic, Lucy’s conception of folk is concerned with what can happen when people come together to share in a cultural practice that they create for themselves. Her forthcoming exhibition Bling! explores this, with affectionate reference to the recent DIY phenomenon known variously as ‘bedazzling,’ ‘bejewelling’ and ‘blinging’.
Mostly practised by girls and young women, ‘hand-blinging’ involves the painstaking application of gemstones, pieces of broken jewellery and small plastic charms to a range of personally totemic objects, such as mobile phones, tablets and cosmetics cases, to mimic ‘more expensive’ tastes. Although its popularity was fleeting, hand-bling spoke of a sense of optimism as well as wish-fulfilment, striving to ‘pass’ for- or perhaps even ‘surpass’- luxury lifestyle, via items inexpensively customised at home.
For Bling! Lucy takes a set of objects from her 1990s adolescence- a portable cassette player, a TV-VHS recorder, and a discman- and gives them a lavish hand-bling makeover. A document of folk art in the age of digital reproduction and a nod towards the increasingly personal relationships formed with everyday technologies, the exhibition is also an exercise in nostalgia, harking back to a time when a portable TV was considered a luxury item, and we were perhaps innocent enough to embrace ‘bling.’
There’ll be an evening event to mark the exhibition- alongside folklorist urbanist Andrew Jackson’s Wake-Up Call– on 31st March from 6pm.