Skin and Bones @ 1 Royal Terrace

Review by Franchesca Hashemi | 07 Jul 2014

Royal Terrace Committee Show Skin and Bones hosts the architecturally enhanced but bodily based sculptural installation from its founding artists Ruth Switalski and Petter Yxell.

Yxell’s monstrous pine beams dominate the show, with the etchings 'Love, like meaning arrives retrospectively' towering from majestic height. Dependant on your eye-line, the beams separate Skin and Bones’ main body of work and structurally manipulates objects within space.

Yxell's hand carved axe wholesomely conflicts the deftly placed granite sculptures from anatomy-inspired Switalski.

Stratum Corneum (horny layer) shows the largest wall section as a silicone installation. Layers of tacky white material demonstrate the body’s ability to onionate itself while resisting bare levels of danger. As the ‘skin’ spills onto the wooden panel floor, and remains unkept from where it fell, we’re faced with an idiosyncratic creature. Named Saint Bartholomew, the weeping white cloth is humanely hunched with a drooping head staged on withered shoulders. The torso slithers into a shapeless fantasy while a wavering limb gently cascades the bookshelf it calls home. Pinning the body into submission are two wrought iron nails – a physical portrayal of Bartholomew the apostle’s date with a brutal destiny.

Placed by the window is Marrow. A joint effort between the artists, this concrete slab provides an appropriate closer. Singularly, it’s not mesmerising, yet juxtaposed with the colossal scaffolding and 'Quality Development' sign that can be read via the next street’s building site, Marrow’s organic potential comes into being. Broken but intact, the artist's use of graphite and varnish fill the gaps while allowing the slab to stand upright in a soothing gallery space.

It's the stealthily ergonomic but justly tender overture that Royal Terrace’s end of season Committee Show gently exudes. Switalski and Yxell have cleverly engineered a quaint West End tenement into the intimately dynamic Skin and Bones exhibition.