Slugtown are pleased to present Brown Carpet, a solo exhibition by Newcastle based artist Harley Kuyck-Cohen. Brown Carpet, the artist’s debut solo exhibition in Newcastle, is an investigation into how interior thoughts can shape exterior space.
The exhibition sees the artist contemplate a broad range of spaces, colliding them together in sculptures and installation. Within the works, are elements from recognisable environments including terraced houses, timber yards, artists’ studios and gymnasiums, alongside upper-class surroundings of hermitage studies and retreats of the aristocracy.
Much of what sits in the exhibition seeks to abstract and revisit the life of the past. Almost all of the material Kuyck-Cohen uses is reclaimed; old and unwanted items salvaged via online searches, passed on from friends, or through trawling marketplaces. Some of this material is remodeled into creating new artworks, such as the old gymnasium floor retrieved from a Scottish school now used in the works How Can I Remind You, For My Ability to Sing and Yes Sorry No Ok No Yes. Other finds become elements of sculptural assemblages – like the antique dog toys and wooden writing desks in Palimpsest and A Place for Everything Arid respectively. Drawings are made from studying a book of Queen Victoria’s sketchbooks, and the wooden cats that slink throughout the gallery reference a small ornament picked up from Tynemouth market.
At the centre of the exhibition stands the work I’ve Got A Dream Worth More Than My Sleep, a towering column of disused clay chimney pots. Devoid of use, and reaching from the floor to the gallery ceiling, it emerges like a recurring dream or a crumbling Brâncuși Endless Column.
This way of gathering and using material is important to the artist, forming part of his exploration into modern British history, identity, and the bonds between masculine craftsmen and corrupt societies.
Every element is found, repurposed, and then brought back in a wreckage. By revisiting the symbols of British high culture, Kuyck-Cohen reveals their toxic legacy; an island nation of misplaced pride harbouring old ideas of empire. A country of ever closing borders, nostalgic and decrepit, on the edge of inward collapse.
Harley Kuyck-Cohen (b.1994, UK) lives and works in Newcastle upon Tyne. Recent exhibitions include Remedial Works, Quench Gallery, Margate, UK; EKO8 International Triennial of Art and Environment/A Letter to the Future, Maribor, Slovenia; St Paul’s Cathedral, Lungley Gallery, London, UK; Acting on Behalf of Thinking, PINK MCR, Manchester, UK; Allotment, Airspace Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent, UK. Harley has also been shortlisted for the Mark Tanner Sculpture Award, The Exeter Contemporary and the Woon Prize in Sculpture and Painting.