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Jupiter Artland Review: New Exhibitions by Laura Aldridge and Andrew Sim

Jupiter Artland has unveiled a new programme featuring exhibitions by artists Laura Aldridge and Andrew Sim. The shows speak to each other in their commitments to nature, growth, and our own interactivity with art. They are the perfect match for Jupiter
Artland: a place to escape for a day, wandering around the grounds with the freedom of getting lost and finding your way again, while stumbling upon the hidden pieces strewn across the garden.

A transmutative space


Photo Credit: Laura Aldridge

Situated in The Steadings Gallery, Aldridge’s LAWNMOWER crafts a transmutative space where mediums, senses and lifeforms combine in dynamic harmony. While the building remains unassuming from the outside, the interior washes visitors in a wave of
warm, yellow light – evoking joy and forgoing the tensions of the present. On the walls, connected through brightly coloured cables, are clusters of fabric with each encircling its own glowing, beating heart. In combining ceramic with plant-dyed fabric and electricity, Aldridge presents objects that are both organic and inorganic – a theme running through her work here.

A film plays on one wall – a pastiche of colour, poetry, sight, and sound. Visitors are encouraged to sit on the curved loveseats which can be wheeled around the barn, thanks to the ramp that was installed specifically for the show (doubling as an accessibility measure).

One might be wary of the rounded glass sculptures embedded in these seats but, as Aldridge confirms, we are allowed (and supposed) to interact with them – everything can be replaced.

Her work is well-suited to the house-like gallery, as she states that ‘people can have them on their walls’, playing with their phenomenological nature. The show certainly brings out a form of childlike wonder and desire to play with the pieces, eliciting excitement at the mere idea of interacting with fine art – which is so often placed behind reinforced glass or alarmed systems.

Paired with Aldridge’s takeover of the barn space, is Andrew Sim’s parallel display in The Ballroom.

In the darkest hour of the night


Photo Credit: Andrew Sim

Inside the delicately adorned, traditionally decorated room, Sims unapologetically hangs their pastel pieces, delightfully off-centre and breathtakingly bold. Bushes, trees, and flowers pop out of the canvases, almost as if backlit against their night-time backdrops. We are invited to look at the frames as if they are windows, as if the flora and fauna really exists outside of the room, and as if we have been transported in time to the darkest hour of the night.

These pieces are inspired by Sim’s night walks in London, New York, and Glasgow, as someone who is drawn to how different aspects of nature can speak to us at different moments in our lifetimes.

Sim states ‘I’ll see something or have something in my head for quite some time…and they become symbols for something in my life or where my head is at’.

As well as one cartoonish werewolf, the pieces exhibit twinning, something which has been ‘essential to a lot of queer art, especially before same-sex relationships could be portrayed’, says Sim.

‘It’s just showing two things that are the same, together. It doesn’t necessarily mean romantic relationships, I think of it as queer family-building’.

The show encourages us to take more notice of the plants that reoccur in our lives, taking root in our milestones and branching out alongside us. These symbols not only serve to connect us to the places we have been, but to connect these places to each other.

A haven away

The playful nature of these new major exhibitions speaks to our wider yearning for an escape. Post-covid, in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, and constantly aware of and impacted by conflict overseas, Jupiter Artland continues to provide a haven away. It
remains a place that we should be grateful to experience, even if just for an hour or two.

LAWNMOWER and two rainbows and a forest of plants and trees will be open to visitors from 11th May till 29th September at Jupiter Artland, EH27 8BY.

The show is a part of Edinburgh Art Festival (EAF24)

Featured Image Credit: Neil Hanna

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