Presented by Meadow Arts, In Ruins (12 July-3 November 2019) looks at ideas of ruin and decay through installations, sculptures and other work set in Witley Court's historic landscape.
Narratives of entropy and decay are ever present in Alex Hartley's work and, as part of In Ruins, he presents a number of newly commissioned sculptures in various states of apparent dilapidation in the grounds of Witley Court.
Titled Façade, Blank, Plinth, the works appear deliberately out of step with the harmonious texture of Witley Court. Evidently from the wrong era, they are made of materials that suggest a different, somehow alien time. Façade and Blank behave like remnants, fragments of the ‘skin’, of larger buildings. But are these ruins from the past or from a possible future?
They seem unconnected to the Court, yet they are made of materials that are all present in the building. Concrete, steel, lead, corrugated iron, scaffolding and industrial bricks can all be seen in the various restorations. Hartley was indeed fascinated by how different time frames could be read as layers in the fabric of the building. Both works are supported by brutalist shores that hold them as facades in their ‘original’ positions.
The third work, Plinth, memorialises and celebrates mighty weeds that have broken through the aged and decaying concrete. Amongst other plants, it is a monument to the ubiquitous Buddleia, a plant that has colonised millions of urban wastelands and bomb sites the world over.
All three works allude to other possible pasts – or futures – overlaid onto the Witley Court site.
Images: Alex Hartley, Façade, Blank, Plinth, 2019
© Alex Hartley
Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro, London/Venice
Photography: Alex Hartley