Our tenth Wooosh opening was somewhat delayed by a private transaction between two BMWs in the viewing zone of Gallery 2 – one befitting Saturday night in a public car park, and somewhat inevitable given its locale being more explicitly ‘in a parking spot’ than the open reaches of Gallery 1.
Mhairi Brown’s drawings are complementary to other, less disruptive, qualities of Gallery 2 – its architectural and botanical framing providing a sheltered respite appropriate to her work and working habits. Her drawings are quiet yet full, treading a soft line between giving too much or little away. Whether painting while holed-up inside a canvas tent or making marks at subtle increments almost imperceptible to her studio peers, she is attuned to the bind between making and its context, one that toes the bounds between the private and performative.
In her talk Mhairi told us that this particular drawing emerged from a photo she took of patrons while invigilating her own degree show: a peculiar and exposed situation of being audience to your audience, a viewer to viewership. It is an introspection on the demands she makes when the roles are switched – always looking to take something for herself from the work of others, and (by her own admittance) not often returning empathy to the artist’s own perspective. Figures peer out to make finely penciled confessions of this small and relatable sin.
With the A4 freshly pasted to the wall, a new audience huddled together to examine the speech bubbles which – with a smidge of obfuscation – read: “Give me something”… “Give me something back”. Similar utterances were presumably made in the BMWs moments before – words of of divest and invest, supply and demand. In the same spot our attendees now shone – stagelit by the fresh light of Mhairi’s work and a shoddy iPhone flash, in an idiosyncratic carpark performance of viewership as exchange.
Mhairi’s drawing will not fit up your nose, and empathy is not really a currency, so the themes being pushed here are probably a bit off. Nonetheless, we hope she got something from the experience, and that if you find yourself in the Miller’s Wynd car park at night, you get something too.