I went to see the current exhibition at the Victoria Gallery today. Called Sharmanka Travelling Circus it combines mechanical bits and pieces of scrap metal, old looms, cogs, bells, together with carved figures made to bang and hammer and make things move - a bit like a Heath Robinson contraption. The changing colours of the lighting casts shadows that become another version of the animated elements. And the music reflects the different stories being told (these passed me by). The industrial scenes, with cranes and meccano-like skyscrapers, accompanied by a kind of 1920s jazz and big band music reminded me of some of the paintings at the exhibition of American art at the Ashmolean. It all felt industrial, the noise and clang of construction in 20th century America, and then I read the leaflet. Sharmanka is Russian for barrel organ; the concept was created in Russia in the 1970s; and though some of the sound and performance relate to industry, there were stories, fables and allegories that I, being literal, didn't pick up. I loved it for the sight and sound and the kind of artist craftsman who has the imagination and skill to invent it.
Sharmanka Travelling Circus
13/11/2022 10:01:05 am
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13/11/2022 09:12:51 pm
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