Steven Claydon @ The Common Guild

Steven Claydon transforms The Common Guild with industrial-looking sculptures topped with reproductions of archaic objects, fizzing away material categories and expectations.

Review by Adam Benmakhlouf | 19 May 2017

The orange of The Common Guild’s front door is new. It’s not until someone walks through it that it focuses into the curtain that it is, and once nearer its citronella scent is strong. Going through its fringes, the weight of the PVC slides heavily overhead.

Its zone-making feels like the segments of a factory or the scene-making (and radiation screening) curtains at the mouth and end of airport security machines. Into Gallery 1, canisters in the corner have had parts of their surface painted grey. Through an eye for the refined palette of contemporary interior decor, carved wooden masks of unknown origin, looking like the kinds of ritual statues that would be found in museum stores.

Every part of the work and environment is activated, as totemic items are housed in ambivalently elegant and overbearing techy aluminium coloured holders (think what’s meant to be the objectively neutral aluminium of a Macbook). Often set on gym mats, that they sink deeply into the foam visualises their heft.

Elements are wefted into one another upstairs, like collage of a foreign textile and Pink Panther animation cells, or the carvings of crocodiles lain on top of tree trunks. The ends that protrude outwards at stomach level visibly and clearly demonstrate the resin material they’re made of. Set in steel sands that are polkadotted with a grid of circle cut-outs, painted brown, the expected natural-industrial binary becomes something that has shifting skins and punched-out parts.

Through his editing of the gallery space itself, as well as each of the works, Claydon begins with associative forms and materials – tree trunk, tribal mask, steel. Then, these are denatured, and familiar narratives of objects are put through a process of commixtio, becoming something distinct but strange. 

Steven Claydon, The Archipelago of Contented Peoples: Endurance Groups, The Common Guild, Glasgow, until 9 Jul