Review: Blades House 08.02.08

Blades House, Matthew Darbyshire’s installation at the Gasworks Gallery in south London
Blades House, Matthew Darbyshire’s installation at the Gasworks Gallery in south London
words William Wiles

There’s something very sinister about Blades House, Matthew Darbyshire’s installation at the Gasworks Gallery in south London. It’s a mock-up of a contemporary London flat based in part on the period interiors displayed at the Geffrye Museum, but the television and iPod are playing, giving it the Marie Celeste sense of the recent departure and imminent return of its occupant. It’s a windowless space that feels strongly like a stage set, but it also has an unsettling sense of reality, as it is filled with “accurate period details”: that iPod, the Muji bed, the Marcel Wanders stool, the Ikea rug, the Arne Jacobsen chairs from Fritz Hansen, the Ralph Lauren backgammon set.

It is, of course, telling that all the “period details” are branded – Blades House, like the period it represents, is defined by the brands we collectively use to express our individuality, a point made by Darbyshire with a suit covered in logos and trademarks that you pass on the way into the installation. This suit is a crude note in an otherwise subtle and darkly witty work. If the decorating shows on television are to be believed, bright colours are the hip thing in interior design right now, and it takes an expert eye to get them clashing so perfectly, down to the matching Lucozade-orange hall carpet and Pantone mug. For the design conscious, Blades House is like Name That Tune for furniture. The litany of brand and designer names is a closely observed roster of hipster essentials, given a Bret Easton Ellis twist by the lack of any sense of personality or, indeed, humanity. If there was a fridge in Blades House, it would be a Smeg, and it might well contain part of a dismembered corpse.

Blades House is at the Gasworks Gallery, Vauxhall Street, London, until 23 March.

www.gasworks.org.uk

images Matthew Booth


Blades House, Matthew Darbyshire’s installation at the Gasworks Gallery in south London

Blades House, Matthew Darbyshire’s installation at the Gasworks Gallery in south London

Blades House, Matthew Darbyshire’s installation at the Gasworks Gallery in south London

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