Foul Flora Wierd Waves  - Orkney Science Festival 

Loft Gallery
St Margaret's Hope
South Ronaldsay
Dates: 3/9/04 - 5/10/04

Exhibition organised as part of the Orkney International Science Festival  2004

Flora Tantra - 2004

Flora Murder - 2004

Flora Venom - 2004

Foul Fora Wierd Waves - Dad Fish 2004

Review of Foul Flora, Weird Waves exhibition at the Loft Gallery, St. Margaret's Hope, South Ronaldsay. Written by Neil Firth of the Pier Arts Centre, Stromness for 'The Orcadian' and 'Orkney Today' newspapers. Friday September 24, 2004.

On at the Loft Gallery, St. Margaret's Hope, until 5th October 2004, is an exhibition promoted under the banner of Christil Trumpet called 'Foul Flora, Weird Waves'.

Christil Trumpet is the loose amalgam of the names of the two main artists, Matilda Tumim and Christopher Prendergast. Their three sons, Josh, Theo and Erlend have also contributed in some way to each of the 15 works on display. Foul Flora, Weird Waves is their collaborative exhibition.

They have described this family collaboration as a natural extension of their shared life.

There are two distinct elements to the show, both of which find their form in the flotsam and jetsam of the foreshore, arranged in juxtaposition with elegant and delicate drawings from all in Christil Trumpet. The result being represented in glazed, wall mounted boxes.

The ingredients will not sound unfamiliar, and indeed Orkney has seen a variety of artists work in a similar manner, but there is something fresh and different in these works. The eight works that make up Foul Flora are particularly fine.

A variety of marine debris, including bicycle seats, a Norwegian margarine tub, bits of old plastic, rope, netting and fish egg casing, take the shape of fantastic outsized flowers, adorned here and there with delicate drawings of different styles in different hands. These works are beguiling, inviting the viewer’s gaze through texture and colour and holding the attention with their intriguing mixture of drawing styles and as a whole the constructions hold something of the morbid fascination that can be derived from viewing the remains of washed up sea birds or even road kill. In this there are similarities to the work of Helen Chadwick and Fred Tomaselli, where a larger image is constructed from many smaller images or in the instance of Chadwick’s work, where some extraordinary beauty is found in the most visceral of materials.

The Weird Waves are perhaps more straightforward. In the glazed boxes a tumult of flotsam and jetsam rises along one side of the picture, seemingly ready to collapse on itself. Weird Waves are a reminder that, while the myriad forms of plastic and other floating debris contribute to pollution, they are nonetheless fragments of people’s lives, randomly gathered together under a force of nature.

In this, both the wave and the flower pieces in the exhibition seek to draw a parallel between the transient lifespan of waves and the seasonal blooming of flowers, while circumstances and events evolve around them.

Matilda’s individual artistic practice will be more familiar to visitors of the exhibition but it is particularly good to see the reappearance of work by Christopher, who’s fine drawing style has not been seen for a considerable time.

If you are fortunate enough to live in South Ronaldsay you should not miss this opportunity. Visitors from further afield will find the trip well worthwhile.

Neil Firth
Pier Arts Centre

Review of Foul Flora, Weird Waves exhibition at the Loft Gallery, St. Margaret's Hope, South Ronaldsay. Written by Richard Gauld of Orkney Sustainable Energy Ltd.

Foul Flora, Weird Waves is a display of illusion and transformation, showing the dark and unsightly side of mankind’s impact upon the environment, while at the same time creating striking and thought-provoking structures from beach flotsam.

With the arrival of the first wave energy converter, the Pelamis, it is appropriate that the Orkney Science Festival should have and exhibition showing the power and impact of waves. Constructed from the flotsam washed up at Billia Croo, the waver energy test site, the exhibits can be viewed in two ways. The first perception is of the colours, balance and symmetry of flowers, and the curve, elegance and action of waves. Surrounding and enhancing the flowers are butterflies, adding to the illusion. From these initial perceptions the viewer is drawn in, attracted by the imagery, like an insect to a flower. A closer view reveals the true nature of the art, but by now you are trapped, captured by the structures, the content, the creation of beauty from discarded and abandoned objects.

Perceptions are challenged by this multi-layered and entrancing exhibition, with each flower and wave revealing a different story. The Foul Flora Murder in the Wood, from a distance, shows symmetry and an erotic attractiveness, but as the viewer goes closer then the character of the flower is revealed. There is fascination in the events hidden within; a story unfolds, a meeting, a walk in the woods, then murder – but who is the killer and who has been killed?

Foul Flora, Weird Waves is an exhibition that ensnares the viewer, who in turn goes away with an enlightenment on perceptions of beauty, along with an understanding of out impact on the environment.

Richard Gauld
Orkney Sustainable Energy Ltd.

Using Format