Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Collect Raindrops: The Seasons Gathered

Nikki McClure
(Abrams, 2007, 112 pp, RRP £15.95)

This giant-sized tome collects together a decade of poster art by Nikki McClure, Olympian-based riot grrrl performer and self-taught artist. ‘Every year since1998, I have printed a calendar noting the month-by-month change in orbit’, she writes, producing pictures with ‘detailed, yet sparse instructions on living life where our hands matter.’ The ethic is reflected in McClure’s style: working from a single sheet of black paper, McClure painstakingly cuts out her images with an X-acto knife, leaving lace-like compositions to which colour and text are added. The figures that populate her work are attractive, chunky types – like old soviet images of women workers, brought into the twenty-first century and made punk-rock. Scenes revolve around mini-adventures of contemplation – swimming in lakes with friends, climbing trees, nursing babies, sweeping floors, reading in hammocks, and harvesting crops.

McClure propagates a vision of the ‘good life’. Sharing a Yoko Ono-esque preference for affirmations, each seasonal-based image is accompanied with an urging phrase- viewers are encouraged to ‘seek’, ‘contribute’, ‘make mistakes’, ‘defend civility’ and ‘wake up’, which can become overwhelmingly twee. The ‘chicken soup for the soul’ vibe of McClure’s work is, thankfully, tempered by the beautiful images she creates, and a real sense of wonder at the turning of the year and the potential for deep-rooted, embodied relationships and meaningful industry. Stirring visual propaganda for a creative life led in balance of venture and repose.

Reviewed by Red Chidgey.

No comments: