Emma Hart: Dirty Looks

  • Art
  • Ceramics and pottery
1/5
'Backwash (detail)

© the artist, courtesy Camden Arts Centre

2/5
'Clipboard'

© the artist, courtesy Camden Arts Centre

3/5
'Handle'

© the artist, courtesy Camden Arts Centre

4/5
'Best in Show'

© the artist, courtesy Camden Arts Centre

5/5
'Clay Napkins'

© the artist, courtesy Camden Arts Centre

Free

You’re aware of the yabbering coming from this London artist’s first major show long before you get inside the gallery: ‘This one... no, no, no, no… I’ve hit a blind spot on this, sorry... no, no, no’. Delivered via speakers concealed within sculptures, Emma Hart’s sound loops are like a series of stuttering cold calls – non-conversations as imagined by a fan of Samuel Beckett.

Her furniture-like sculptures are similarly vexing. Made of mismatched lengths of MDF, they tilt precariously or split apart, revealing trails of doodled lists, garish images of flowers, leaves and berries, or flesh-like sculptural forms. Protruding like door knobs are ceramic tongues decorated with a dribbly pink glaze. Clay tongues also curl round napkins, act as photo frame stands and the blades of trowels.

Much like Hart’s audio pieces, these bawdy bodily intrusions are designed to puncture the polite atmosphere of the gallery. ‘I don’t want art to make sense of the chaos,’ the artist says in an accompanying film. Chatty, awkward and energetic – a bit lumpy and even a bit dirty as the title suggests – her art attempts to reach out to meet everyday life on its own terms. The question hanging over this intermittently enjoyable experience, though, is whether swapping life chaos for art chaos is much of a deal for the viewer.

Martin Coomer