Members' Show @ Embassy, until 3 Feb

Review by Ben Robinson | 29 Jan 2013

Anyone expecting the Embassy Members' Show to observe the usual etiquette reserved for such functions might just be in for a surprise. Most artists can be relied upon to pitch in with a polite, discreet artwork that won’t hog too much limelight, but the Embassy 2013 vintage doesn’t quite follow protocol. The gallery has granted the Orton sisters - Katie, Anna and Sophie - and their three-way collaboration Ortonandon the licence to install hundreds of red, blue, green and yellow vinyl spots all over its walls and floor. The resulting Twister homage, replete with spinner on plinth, provides a dazzling ‘60s Op/Pop intervention that impresses with its sheer chutzpah.  

The accompanying handout text by Neil Cooper persuasively argues that the trio isn’t seeking to upstage anyone else here. “Inclusivity is everything to Ortonandon,” Cooper writes. What the installation does is to tie together all the various submissions, from low-fi to polished, in an exuberant game of give and take - a push-pull dynamic of influence and inter-artist dialogue.

Even in these most crowded of surroundings, certain works prove more than capable of holding their own. Deirdre Robertson’s assemblage of platform boot, wig and bleach bottle, Karen's Night Out, packs plenty of trashy glam strut. Chloe Winsor’s luminous pyramid manages to retain an air of esoteric mystery, and Claire Davies’ multicoloured Bommyknocker stick takes the floor quite happily.

It’s the multitude of dots that the show will be remembered for, however, tying the local scene together in joyous knots. As Cooper puts it, “Ortonandon are about more than just fooling around.” [Ben Robinson]


Defcon Salon 1: Members' Show 2013 is at Embassy until 3 Feb