Animal - Liminal show at Leyden Gallery
In front of the mirror, the hyena was admiring herself in Mary's face. She had nibbled very neatly all around the face so that what was left was exactly what was needed. "You’ve certainly done that very well," I said. Towards evening, when the hyena was all dressed up, she declared, "I really feel in tip-top form. I have a feeling I shall be a great success this evening." From The Debutante by Leonora Carrington Writers and artists have long been fascinated and identified with the potential liminality of animal encounters. The surrealist Leonora Carrington so identified with the hyena she often portrayed herself in that dis-guise. With Leyden Gallery’s new exhibition Animal/Liminal the term liminal brings forth the concept of the disorientating limit or threshold upon which the human/animal precariously stand side by side with our everyday encounters; from the mythic, through the surreal to the domestic. The survival of the notion of the animal-becoming-human and vice-versa has endured through eons of mythology and ancient religious practices. It does not take much imagination to see how the werewolf (perhaps a distant cousin of the often reviled hyena) is a liminal creature. For Animal/Liminal Leyden Gallery are proud to present a selection of prints from the internationally acclaimed artist Antony Micallef. Since winning the second prize at the acclaimed BP portrait Award in 2000 Micallef has gone on to appear in group shows at The Royal Academy and The Tate Britain. Fusing not only the animal and the human in his political work, Micallef manages to merge the concerns of pop culture with a baroque touch, bringing this fusion to dizzying ends, which he has likened to “watching a Disney movie that slowly transforms into violence and pornography and you don’t know how or when the change happens.” Alongside these works, Leyden Gallery are also pleased to present a group show of work from emerging artists Perdita Sinclair, Hazel Mountford, Lindsay Moran and filmmaker Rosie O’Grady. Each deals with the representation, and at times uncanny connection of familiar encounters as human/animal. Sinclair, having previously exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery and the Royal Academy, produces works that builds up paint against the exposed surface of the canvas where the tangle of line and colour expose the corporeality of the figurative. Through depth, line and colour, liminal thresholds appear to signal and echo the notion of consciousness as it is woven through flesh by strings of the sensual. Rosie O’Grady, a recent graduate from the Glasgow School of Art, and the latest finalist of the New Sensations Award at Saatchi, brings a wonderful humorous dimension into the gallery with her film Camellemac, in which a live camel is brought into the corridors of the Glasgow School of Art and is filmed in close proximity to the statues therein. O’Grady calls the film ‘surreal and absurd’. The animal grunts, and nuzzles with the sculpture of a roaring lion, then elegantly strides past original studio doors. Incongruity and humour are rife in this confusion of historical fact and fantasy. Mountford focuses on the wildlife of Great Britain, both past and present and the evolving relationship of space between humans and animals. Finally, we are also pleased to present the paintings of Moran, his splendid painting of an Elephant points to the symbolic, religious and mythical import that this gracious creature commands, yet the title ‘Not on Your Nellie’ appears to oppose and thus forces us to look again.