Alex Chinneck: Fighting Fire With Ice Cream


Alex Chinneck celebrates everyday construction materials by enlivening them with a new purpose and appearance. For this exhibition the artist has removed them from their utilitarian context and reshaped them into abstract art. Inspired by the landscape hat surrounds him, this body of work reflects the artist’s time spent living and working within London’s industrial peripheries. Through his art the unrefined materials of basic construction are given a second life. 

Central to this exhibition, sponsored by Norbord, is a series of large-scale coloured OSB (Oriented Strand Board) wood panels. The boards’ innate quality of wood chips are coloured in wax crayon, a process that can take the artist up to 600 hours per edition. Chinneck allows the flecks of wood in the panel predetermine the composition, like brush strokes in a painting they vary in size, colour and depth; seeking out the individual quality of what may otherwise be seen as a standardised mass-produced product. ‘Fighting Fire with Ice Cream’ is the largest in this series; thousands of coloured-in chips slowly disperse across the 130 square foot surface.

Breeze blocks form the ‘building blocks’ of another large scale work ‘In Order of Appearance’. A 100 standardised masonry blocks are contained within a laser cut mild steel framework, assembled to look like a conventional built wall; in actuality, the blocks are facades held within the frame. Painted white, the artificial structure blends in with its surrounding walls until a number of kinetic blocks begin to sequentially slide out from the wall, before retreating backing into it, drawing the audience in.

At the centre of the gallery stands ‘Self Employed’, a 20-foot tall red brick chimney, constructed using reclaimed bricks, that has been seemingly bent into a ‘C’ shape. Two chimneypots pump artificial smoke across the gap of the ‘C’ into the curling base; the object is a self-sufficient system. In another theme of work, 112 pieces of cast and cut concrete collectively make up a 12 foot long Persian rug, playing with the notion of adding affection to the cold materials.

Chinneck’s practice continues to explore the space between art, theatre and architecture. Using part-manufactured products, he adds care andcraftsmanship to deliver art that stimulates and excites the audience.

These and other works by artist Alex Chinneck will be on display in a month-long show at See Studio. Alex Chinneck lives and works in London and studied at Chelsea College of Art and Design.

Gemma Drake


Duration 23 June 2011 - 31 July 2011
Cost Free
Venue See Studio Exhibition Space
Address 13 Prince Edward Road, Hackney Wick London E9 5LX, ,
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