I pink, there for I am
A South African artist who lived in Cork during the height of the pandemic will return this month with a new exhibition he describes as “an artistic war on confinement”.
Stephen Hobbs and his family moved into a remote bungalow in rural Cork in 2019 and his exhibition ‘House Arrest in Pink’ reflects upon the 19 months they spent there.
In the exhibition, which opens on 25 May at Studio 12 on Wandesford Quay, Hobbs looks to draw viewers into a pscyho-spatial translation of life during lockdown.
Living rurally, 5km travel restrictions made access to basic art materials almost impossible, so Hobbs went about upcycling online purchase packaging boxes into mixed media drawings and implied architectural forms, in direct response to the Jack Fitzsimons inspired bungalow rental he and his family occupied.
Jack Fitzsimons was an Irish architect who Hobbs says began Ireland’s rural housing revolution in the early 1970s. Hobbs added that Fitzsimons’ best-selling book ‘Bungalow Bliss’, first published in 1971, was responsible for pulling rural housing in Ireland out of famine era living conditions into a modern dignified offering.
Through the “cross-pollination” of Hobbs’s “box works”, his recent installations in Johannesburg, and visual sampling from Jack Fitzsimons’s publication, Hobbs will adapt Studio 12 into an immersive installation drawing from this 3 year period of extreme shifts in living and lifestyle realities.
Recalling his time spent in lockdown in Cork, Hobbs said: “Freedom to take walks and enjoy the abundance of forests, rivers and farmlands were a privilege to escape to, yet the imposition of 2km and 5km travelling distances imposed a Truman Show-like reality on our minds and bodies and a false sense of safety within an entirely arbitrary circumference.
“Across the planet, our bodies were subjected to numerous distancing methods as the deliverology logics of the pandemic sought to make sense of isolation tactics to curtail the movement of human beings and the spread of the virus. And the cumulative fear factor that ran in parallel sent the mind and body into varying states of paralysis.”
‘House Arrest in Pink’ runs from 25 May to 23 June at Studio 12, Backwater Artists Group, Wandesford Quay, Cork city. An opening event will be held at the studio at 6pm on 25 May.
On 27 May, an artist talk featuring Stephen Hobbs and Brian Mac Domhnaill will take place at the Lavit Gallery on Wandesford Quay at 4pm. For more information, visit backwaterartists.ie.