A black and white world with no people to be seen is how we start, two rooms later and we’re staring at an artificial mountain, having taken a detour via hyper domestication. Inhabit, drawing only on works held in Towner’s collection, has been beautifully curated by Karen Taylor and, in neat partnership with Natural Selection upstairs, again showcases the best of what this gallery can do.
The first showing for newly donated works by Patrick Caulfield is the main draw. They feature in what might be called the blue room. A closed-in domestic setting, deliberately claustrophobic compared to the exterior worlds. The Caulfields are used as interior design along with complementary works such as Kertsin Erici’s Still Life. It does genuinely remind you (me) of staring at art on the walls of homes you’ve visited, trying to see if whats on the walls is going to reveal anything about the people offering you a cup of tea and a polite chat.
The opening room is my favourite. A black and white world with the people removed . Natural, ancient and modern combine. Graham Gussin’s Future City is neatly unsettling when set alongside strong (albeit more straightforward) views of parkland and beaches. It’s all shadow cars and visions that look almost like they could be found on the cover of a lost 1950s sci fi novel.
After the domestic, we move on to the great outdoors. Dominating the room is Zoe Walker’s Somewhere Special. A portable, inflatable Scottish mountain that is out of place, and completely at home, anywhere. It is great fun.
Inhabit is a strong show that works well in tandem with Natural Selection upstairs but stands up strong in its own right. It was nice to see a good crowd taking it all in, and to enjoy a lovely latte in a ‘just busy enough’ cafe afterwards.