Imagine a pair of bird’s wings, humanely detached from their original owner. Packed, shipped, delivered and now laying prostrate on the table in front of you. What comes into your mind? What is the first thing you associate with this charged but ultimately harmless item? Death or life; nature or artifice? Perhaps all of the above?
The brainchild of creative partners Nina Farrell and Asa Medhurst, ‘The Assignment‘ is a project which explores individual artistic expression through thematic collaboration. This, the first project, is based around wings. Nina works regularly with objects; her artworks blur the boundaries between still life, photography and scientific experimentation. She wondered what other artists, with their variety of stylistic and intellectual idiosyncrasies, would make of the same object. Would there be a shared response or would each artist interpret the object in a unique process? These questions were finally answered last Friday, after a year of intense planning and culminating in a delicious paroxysm of paint, taxidermy and technology. Utilising her superior design and PR skills from her background in marketing, Nina, with artist and web-designer partner Asa, set out to create a platform on which this concept could embody their vision of a collaborative showcase.
The project initially consisted a small selection of invited artists drawn together carefully by Asa and Nina; friends, acquaintances and artists whose work they connected with. This was always a changeling being though and as word spread the pair were soon on the other side of the fence – no longer the invitees but the recipients of an inundation of requests to be involved. Tellingly, the final show displayed a choice selection of works from over 60 artist submissions. The Wing Assignment had undoubtedly begun to fly all by itself.
The exhibition took place at Red Bull Studios, appropriately enough, where we were probably plied with enough metaphorical wings to have flown back in time, superman-style, to watch the assignment concept first spring into being. The draw of the physical wings, on the other hand, kept us firmly in the building. Squeezing through the vast, admiring throng I made a fairly vain attempt to take some photographs, and taking my place back at the prints table in my role as helper for the evening, I was peppered with requests to congratulate the curators and to buy not only the tantalising prints and catalogues but the original works too.
Of the originals, a favourite was hard to pick. More than a few times I was forced to undertake healthy debate with another guest about which piece was the most striking. Interestingly, the visitor opinions seemed as diverse as the pieces and rarely did anyone agree. Andre Weé’s shattering graphics seemed particularly popular, with an oft-appearing line of loitering visitors waiting to examine his prints. A fellow helper (my sister in fact) managed to swiftly nab herself a signed Weé print – treasured lovingly all the way home and subsequently held aloft via social media like a spoil of war. Pleased, I think.
My personal favourite was Lift off and Lift off 2, by Sophie-Elizabeth Thompson (Soforbis). The shape, texture and placement signify everything that wings would mean to me; purity, clarity, simplicity and a quiet, inherent beauty. But what wings might mean to me is certainly not what they might mean to someone else, as was made explicit by this exhibition. Part of the inspiration for this project came from Asa and Nina’s desire to work to their own brief rather than that of a client. Letting your creative instinct answer a question, rather than your logic or your knowledge of what someone else is expecting can be an immensely rewarding and inspiring experience. The Wing Assignment is living breathing proof of this fact in the most astounding way. Bring on 2013 and The Assignment #2.
Signed, numbered limited edition prints are available to buy online at The Wing Assignment website
All images my own unless otherwise stated