David Mabb Decorating Business
7 October – 26 November 2000

Oakville Galleries in Gairloch Gardens

For over a decade, British artist David Mabb has consciously borrowed from the work of others. In this exhibition he explores ways to open up the art of William Morris (1834 – 1896) to new interpretations. Morris exerted an immense influence on the artistic and political developments of his time by leading a campaign to bring art to the people and to better social conditions. Mabb uses reproductions of Morris's textile and wallpaper designs as a starting point but offers a new twist. He overpaints the Morris design with squares of white, black and red and isolates selected aspects of the design – for example a single floral motif – resulting in works that are evocative of other eras such as Pop or Russian Constructivism. The overpainted squares introduce an angular modernist space into the design. It is as if Morris's Arts and Crafts movement has converged with the utopian project of Modernism. Not only is it the look or style of these movements that interests Mabb, but also the issues of ideology, aesthetics and politics, which they posed. His work represents a point of connection between differing styles and offers us new ways of looking at where we've been and where we're headed. Seen in the context of Gairloch, a home based on an architectural style from the Arts and Crafts period, Mabb's work has an extraordinary richness. In addition to his textile and wallpaper installations, Mabb has also produced a new single channel video, which reflects on the meeting of craft and technology in the work of Morris.

A catalogue accompanies David Mabb: Decorating Business with essays by Steve Edwards, Mathew Higgs and Marnie Fleming.