From 20th May, the De La Warr Pavilion will present Safari: An exhibition as expedition, an anthology of works by the British artist, Simon Patterson.
Interspersed throughout the gallery space and hence taking the viewers on their own mini safari, the works on view will span a quarter century of Patterson’s career and feature wall drawings, sculpture, prints, photographs video and installation, as well as a public intervention, a site-specific commission and on opening day, a staged sea battle in collaboration with Bexhill Sailing Club!
The commission Patterson has created for the De la Warr is entitled Safari and is made up of a collection of objects interspersed throughout the gallery. The objects are drawn from the Bexhill and Hastings Museums and include artefacts collected by the English writer and traveller, Annie Brassey (1839-87). Brassey lived near Hastings, which is Bexhill-on-Sea’s neighbouring town. Throughout her travels aboard her steam yacht, Sunbeam, she amasses an incredible collection of ethnographic objects, so many in fact that her yacht doubled as a museum!
Safari also presents some less holy objects such as items relating to the infamous Piltdown Man, a paleoanthropological hoax staged by Hastings’s own Charles Dawson in 1912. Dawson fraudulently presented bone fragments as the fossilised remains of a previously unknown early human.
Another element of the exhibition created especially for the De La Warr Pavilion, and in collaboration with the Bexhill Sailing Club, is a public spectacle entitled Seascape. As mentioned, this performance will take place at the exhibition’s opening. Brightly coloured smoke grenades will be set off in an early evening display referencing the commissioning of artists in the 17th and 18th centuries to design spectacles, including mock battles and firework displays, for their patrons. The different colours of smoke actually reference signal categories of engagement in war zones, which change for maximum strategic input.
Upon entering the gallery, the first work visitors will come upon is Escape Routine (2002). A video work, it depicts flight attendants alternating between the ironic oppositions of demonstrating in-flight safety procedures and then feats of escapology. Concurrently, voiceovers both in English and Japanese read excerpts from Harry Houdini’s writings.
Another work to be encountered on the ‘safari’ is Manned Flight (1999). This piece is actually a man-lifting kite inscribed with the name of the first person ever to go into space, Yuri Gagarin. The work will be visible from outside the Pavilion and has previously been displayed around the world. The goal is for it to ultimately be shown outside Moscow, the site of Gagarin’s death (he passed away in a routine training flight).
Head of Exhibition at De La Warr Pavilion, Rosie Cooper says: ‘We are very excited to be working with Simon on his first solo show in the UK for almost a decade. The exhibition unfolds across the entire building and out to the sea, with the help of our neighbours the Bexhill Sailing Club. The partnership with Bexhill and Hastings Museums continues our relationships with these significant local institutions, who continue to provide us with an important way to understand where and who we are in the world.’
So make your way down to Bexhill-on-Sea for some fantastic art, delicious fish & chips and fingers crossed, some sun!
Safari: An exhibition as expedition will be on view at De La Warr Pavilion from 20 May until 3 September, 2017; Open daily 10am – 6pm; www.dlwp.com for more information