Visual Arts Programme
The Concourse Installation 2000
Occasionally, an art-practitioner chooses to respond to a particular gallery space on its own terms; that is, in terms of its form and its function. Interior Designs, by Ian Conroy, presents us with just such an occasion.
In response to the 18-metre cube that is the gallery space, Conroy uses sixty, 1-metre, square panels to define eighteen virtually present 1-metre cubes. These cuboid modules serve as the building blocks for the four individually discrete structures installed within the larger gallery space. I say 'larger gallery space' because each of the eighteen modules is also a potential exhibition space. That potential is in fact exploited by the central module of each of Conroy's four constructions. It is the objects installed within these smaller gallery spaces that are, as such, 'for sale'.
The first of these objects, Spiral Lamp, is incorporated in the largest of Conroy's four constructions. Here, nine cuboid modules are assembled to produce a 'wall' with a 3-metre square face. The face to first confront an entrant to the concourse space, is with the exception of its central panel, entirely finished with wood panelling. The central panel itself incorporates a spiral aperture (Spiral Lamp) constructed from white cotton lycra and steel boning. The narrowest point of this aperture penetrates the central square of the opposing face. This second central square is also wood finished. The remaining squares are finished with a sheer white semi translucent fabric. The choice of such translucent materials is tied to the fact that this, and each of Conroy's other constructions, is internally lit. In the present case, it is this inner luminosity that accounts for the light effects witnessed playing across the inner surface of the spiral aperture.
Conroy has stated that the association between his work and the venue is at its strongest in this piece. We have already noted that each cuboid module and each modular construction is a potential and at times, actual exhibition space. On a formal level, that is, on the level of design, scale, inner proportions and choice of materials, there are also strong references to the concourse space itself. That space is an 18-metre cube. Conroy's constructions are built from eighteen 1-metre virtual cubes. The surfaces of the concourse cube are finished with wood panelling, steel and glass. Conroy's design and choice of construction materials reflects this cool, hard, smooth and almost clinical aesthetic. In terms of proportional relations, each of the concourse walls is broken equally into three sections running from floor to roof. Looking skyward, we see a structural grid, or 'ceiling', of nine squares. Conroy's other three constructions incorporate three cuboid modules each. Two of these plinth-like structures lie horizontally, the last stands vertically. As such, perhaps coincidentally, Conroy's installation incorporates all the factors of eighteen.
As the choice of materials reflects the concourse space, so too their utilisation refers us to the space Conroy has carved out for himself as a display, an exhibition, a furniture, and a theatre designer. That this theatre vernacular in conjunction with the architectural one determines his use of materials is evident from the simple, stripped-down, or minimised 'canvases' (panels) from which each miniature exhibition space is constructed. Where those panels utilise semi translucent materials, the lighting, internal and particular to each construction, throws ever changing shadows, ambiguous reflections and fragmented traces onto the surface of each semi opaque canvas. With the exception of Spiral Lamp, it is these traces or drawings that enable us to 'see' that something has indeed been installed at the centre of each lantern-like construction. Precisely what, or exactly how these funky furnishings themselves appear is not of paramount importance. The key here is that each piece of furniture Bolt Chair, Bone Stool and Cable Tie Lamp has been designed, made, and installed by Conroy.
As such, Interior Designs not only interprets the form and function of the concourse space, it also critically reflects all the facets of Conroy's art practice in a singular piece of site-specific, installation work.