The Blyth Gallery is situated in the Sherfield Building, deep in the South Kensington campus of Imperial College London. The Sherfield Building is a labyrinth of concrete, linoleum and glass. Its atmosphere is oppressively institutional. You walk around to the percussion of slamming fire doors and the click-clock of unseen footsteps. The air carries the faint scent of yesterday’s boiled vegetables. It’s an unprepossessing place.
The gallery is up on the fifth floor, in an anteroom between the lobby outside the central lifts and the Seminar and Learning Centre. There is no natural light. The floor is bare. The walls are white. A partition splits the room in half. The dense human traffic between the lifts and the seminar rooms runs to one side of this partition, leaving the other half clear.
The curators have placed the centrepiece of their latest exhibition, Susan Aldworth’s lithographs, including ‘Passing Thoughts 13’ (above), on the wall of the partition facing the walkway. Whether or not this decision was intentional or forced, it was inspired. The blurb says that the lithographs ‘reflect on the general condition of schizophrenia’, and it’s not lying. To contemplate these images, while purposeful strangers stride about you to a disjointed background soundtrack of clunking doors and invisible voices, is deeply unsettling. The Blyth Gallery would make a poor show of John Constable; but it’s perfect for Aldworth’s meditations on consciousness, psychosis and the physical brain. Until 1 May.
Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.