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BOUND, the exhibition at All Visual Arts’ new space in Kings Cross is the brooding exhibition featuring new and significant works by Alice Anderson (‘Fort-Da’) and Kate McGuire (‘Corvid’).  Walking into the space is akin to finding yourself in an Edward Gorey drawing or lost in the tunnels of Gormenghast. On the floor is a writhing, endless feathered knot, and standing parallel is a towering cotton reel, the taut thread around it being a rope of auburn hair.


Those familiar with Kate McGuire’s work will be familiar with seeing her serpentine works, safely encased in museum cabinets, or at the very least in a smaller size. Here her work is a free, crow-black loop of rippling anaconda – something both fascinating and repellent, without beginning or end. It does not take much to imagine this sinister form hunting the streets at night.  The obsessive nature of this work also has links with Anderson’s study of childhood anxiety. In this work McGuire used crow feathers, (she also uses pigeon and magpie feathers sent by gamekeepers and farmers), to create this work- the crow itself being strongly associated with a knowing sense of foreboding, a harbinger of bad news.


Fort- Da is equally compelling. You cannot tell if the auburn hair twisted round the 3 metre cotton reel is ravelling or unravelling. The work references a game invented by Sigmund Freud’s one-year old grandson who would repeatedly throw and retrieve a reel on a string from his cot. Freud believed the child to be stating “Fort” and “Da” – gone and there – which Freud believed to be a coping mechanism to deal with the absence of his mother. Anderson used this, and her own childhood compulsion of winding hair – her own way of dealing with maternal absence, in this work, the bobbin representing her attachment.  The colossal dimension of the work makes this anxiety all encompassing.


It is not a comfortable exhibition, it is not meant to be and certainly should not be missed.

BOUND is open Tuesday- Sunday 10-6pm

1-30 April 2011
All Visual Arts (AVA)
2 Omega Place, London N1 9DR

A solo exhibition of  Alice Anderson’s work, ‘Alice Anderson’s Childhood Rituals’, opens at the Freud Museum, London- 15 April to 5 June 2011.

Images: Courtesy All Visual Arts, photography Tessa Angus