Wandering bushes, two-faced hedges, burbling baths of purple water and spinning tornadoes of hair: Sarah Cockings and Harriet Fleuriot’s mesmerising show is a heady, trippy nightmare, a weird voyage into the surreal depths of the countryside.
It’s almost like a real-life horror film, with all these bits of nature brought unnaturally to life in the gallery. Screens are dotted around the space showing two camouflaged characters in a damp English landscape. They wrap each other in purple cloth, commune with bushes, fight over rubber sheeting. It’s like they’re engaged in a series of unintelligible rituals, summoning something unseen by swimming with books and waving branches around.
Cockings and Fleuriot are toying with ideas of transformation and invocation. Walking through the space, past balloons that hiss and deflate, piles of moss and a wax-encrusted fountain, you’re dragged into a world where it feels like something is changing and mutating, like you can’t leave without also being transformed by it in some way. It’s very silly, very funny, very English and very good.
Look at it this way: in a horror movie, something terrifying happens to a protagonist who is forced to either adapt and survive, or is destroyed by the catastrophe. Cockings and Fleuriot are using that as a metaphor for adulthood, for living through transition, for figuring out just how to get on with it. For all its superficial silliness, for all the gazillion ideas they’ve piled into the work, this is art about surviving life. It’s art about your thirties, your forties, about getting older and changing: that's the scariest horror of all.