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'The Whole World Needs A Jolt' by Stuart Murphy

Gallery Space

12/04/22 - 17/04/22

‘The Whole World Needs A Jolt’ explores history and culture from the crisis of the Middle Ages in the 14th century when two of humanity's worst catastrophes occurred within a space of 30 years - The Great Famine (1315 - 1322) and The Black Death (1348 - 1351).

This caused mass depopulation and authorities implemented strict laws to deal with this social problem, all with the intention of keeping the lower class in their place. Soon a revolt across Europe broke out and significantly on a more national scale, this crisis and upheaval developed the previously fragmented idea of class consciousness into a more solid and powerful concept.

As well as famine, pestilence, rebellion, and vagrancy, the exhibition will also focus on the forms of public punishment and humiliation such as the stocks, pillory and human branding, put in place by authorities to clamp down on lower class freedom and empowerment, which the crisis of the 14th century had indirectly allowed them.

Staurt’s work will also explore significant cultural aspects of the late Medieval/early modern period, such as the subversive and ritualistic impact carnival had on peasant life - a space where everyone is reduced to their basic bodily functions of eating, drinking, fucking and shitting. Another is the Danse Macabre allegory. Arguably the first modern cultural genre, it appeared out of its vague history at a time when religious faith gradually began to fracture, and people started to be more accepting of the concept of death.

The Dance of Death, as it's otherwise known, came to perfectly reflect the catastrophe and death endured during the 14th century. Reference will also be made to the significance of the iconic scarecrow and revolutionary printing-press as "labour-saving devices."
This body of work will be displayed through drawing, mixed-media collage, printing and sculpture, using materials such as ink, fineliner, graphite, various paper surfaces, newsprint, electrical tape, found objects, and clay, as well as concertina sketchbooks.

Born and currently residing in Ayrshire with a studio based in Glasgow, Stuart's practice involves drawing, assemblage sculpture, collage, painting and text, with the majority of materials either inexpensive, free, re-purposed or salvaged, such as newsprint, ink, acrylic, electrical tape, mannequins, string, used food packaging, old drawings and various types and sizes of paper. Initially due to cost restraints, this low budget use of materials has now become a staple and important aspect of the work.

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