Sunday, 23 March 2014


 A SMALL THING TO ASK until April 25th at
FRITH STREET GALLERY (not in Frith Street but in Golden Square)

 If You Broke Me 2014 by Daphne Wright Photograph (c) the artist, Frith Street Gallery, 
This is a still from one of two short videos of the artist's sons. If you broke me and I am the beginning  each show a solitary boy speaking in riddles to the camera. Each  child’s face is painted, one as a tiger and the other with a beard.  Telling  a playground rhyme or puzzle is one moment when children have the upper hand. They know the punch line, the triumphant denouement, and the adults don't  - or pretend they don't.  But  Wright turns the game into an enigma.

Each boy's voice is soft, each boy's voice is monotonous. They stare back at us unblinking, heightening the tension. The fun, the mischief is draining away. The 'tiger' slowly asks us
'Will you still remember me in a day, will you still remember me in a week, a month' and so on. But there's no reassuring 'Yes!' to answer each question. When he gets to the climax 'Knock, Knock' we are dumb spectators. We can't say 'Who's there?' and so get a jokey reassuring answer. No body is there.  The child is talking to himself. He simply says 'You have forgotten me already'. The joke curdles into sorrow.

daphne wright kitchen table
Kitchen Table, 2014 by Daphne Wright Photograph (c) the artist, Frith Street Gallery,

Daphne Wright uses a wide range of materials: plaster, tinfoil, video, printmaking, found objects and performance.

In this sculpture two boys of life size are hanging around in the kitchen. Instead of the gentle colours of flesh and the signs of warmth and welcome we  want from a kitchen, everything is ashen and the restless energy of young people is turned into cold hard matter.

Is there is a hint of the  fairy tale of the Sleeping Beauty, tricked  by the spell of the Wicked Godmother? At the moment when her finger is pricked by a spinning wheel everyone is petrified, turned into stone wherever they are, whatever they are doing, and must keep that pose for a hundred years, until  released by a kiss. These boys are in the barest of kitchens slumped, bored, drooping. They look so lifelike but are simply not there. Are they waiting, like the boys in the video, for a  response which would bring laughter and warmth and a shared experience?
Laura Cumming in a brilliant review of the whole exhibition in the Guardian writes ' (Daphne Wright) creates worlds that are beautiful and rather eerie which feel like the threshold to somewhere new'.

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