Three delightfully fun looking, but ominously named Ruin Trees dominate the floor of Clare Holdstock’s Ruin Value exhibition at Queen’s House Showcase on Paragon Street. The bright, hard Styrofoam S casts hanging from their welded steel limbs bring a brash and exciting colour to the whole room, instantly grabbing your interest. Questions are raised. Why are they there? Why are they so interesting? Why do the exciting colours of the leaf-like Ss contrast with the cold, hard steel of the branches? What is Bauhaus (a word enshrined in metre high letters on the wall of the gallery? And finally, why do I want to play with the temptingly dangling rows of casts?
This is what it’s all about. Ruin Value raises questions while turning everyday objects that would otherwise be ignored into things of beauty and excitement. This almost ironic transformation is one of many reflected physically in the exhibition. The impermanent Styrofoam packing material and throw-away bubble wrap of the sculptures becomes a permanent fixture through casting and other methods while the playful becomes educational the more you think about it.
This is all a product of the celebrated movement that is enshrined in huge, illuminated letters on the back wall: Bauhaus. The exhibition is looking at the movement that swept away overworked Victorian decor and replaced it with a new, minimalistic, functional urban aesthetic almost 100 years after its heyday, asking if the movement is still relevant in the 21st century. The movement brought with it a new way of looking at the urban environment and all of the objects and experiences that come with it as objects of bare function. This perspective is the inspiration for the other objects in the exhibition and the hanging that iconises it provides a prism through which to understand the other objects in the exhibition.
Here, almost in sight of the Humber Bridge’s beautifully functional monoliths, this exhibition looks at the ongoing beauty of things that have come to the end of their functional life. Just like so many of the Bauhaus inspired buildings of the 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s, these things remain beautiful long after they are abandoned by the people that created them. While the original movement focused on the aesthetics of objects in use, this new take on it looks at the visual appeal of objects that have been used and thrown away, making permanent art out of objects that were designed to be thrown away.
Whether you want to be entertained or educated, it’s well worth giving this interesting, different and essentially fulfilling exhibition a visit.
Find it at Queen’s House Showcase on Paragon Street in Hull, opposite the Hull Cheese, open between 11 and 4 every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Find out more about the artist and her works at www.clareholdstock.co.uk