Anne Hardy Field at MOMA

A hiccup in lunching arrangements yesterday resulted in some unexpected bonus time, so after a planned visit to the British Heart Foundation shop in St Ebbe’s, my eye lighted on the institution formally known as the Museum of Modern Art. Not one of my natural haunts, but capable of springing the odd suprise.

The current exhibition is Field by Ann Hardy (me neither). If you want an in depth review from somebody who knows what they’re talking about, see Michael Skidmore’s piece on Daily Info – this is the ”I-know-what-I-like” version.

What it’s about (or, rather, what I think it’s about) is the artist taking a look at the things left over in her studio at the end of the day – the off-cuts, the rejects, even the sweepings and doing something interesting with them.

There are four exhibits – two are of the conventional “picture on the wall variety and two are “immersive”.

The first exhibit is very blue, contains a large photograph of stuff and, to my untutored mind, had a “my five year old could do that” feel about it.

As you may imagine, I approached the second exhibit with a sense of rising cynicism which was not allayed by the appearance of what looked like a cross between a packing case and a windowless garden shed. Still, “Nothing ventured: nothing gained” and you never know – it might be a time machine or a portal to an alternative universe … I entered the exhibit …

It was indeed a large and rather dark wooden box complete with a bench and some miscellaneous background sounds, but nothing much to see. The funny thing is that, without any conscious decision,  some sort of  Neolithic instinct kicks in and you quickly start exploring your environment. Moving – hearing the sound you make. Touching – feeling the texture of the wooden walls; feeling the curves and flatnesses . Seeing – starlight; light leaking in from the outside world through a small crack. So not a time machine, but a place apart that reminds you of your underlying and intrinsic physicality.


Anne Hardy Field at MOMA

In the middle gallery, there’s a small collection of photograms which could be of the sort of thing that you might see through a microscope or on a day trip to the Mariana Trench. In fact, they’re just the sweepings up from Anne Hardy’s studio.

Anne Hardy Field at MOMA

“Punctuated Remains” in the Piper Gallery is the second immersive piece and is best described as being very … um … yellow. For some reason it reminded me of the school gym (although the school gym wasn’t yellow – more sort of school gym colour). You have to take your shoes off for this one and, to honest, I’m not quite sure what I made of it. As with the other piece, the idea was to immerse yourself in the exhibit and whilst I quite enjoyed the experience of wandering round in a large space looking at the occasional items, it did feel more like just wandering round in a large room.

I’m not quite sure what to make of the overall experience, but there were elements that made me think and, despite some initial scepticism, I actually enjoyed it and am even thinking about redesignating my living room as an immersive art installation.

Fields by Anne Hardy is at Modern art Oxford until 10th January 2016