Alice Anderson: The Wellcome Collection

Hidden behind an unassuming black door at The Wellcome Collection is Alice Anderson’s new ‘Memory Movement Memory Objects’ exhibition. It comprises one hundred sculptures of mundane, everyday objects covered (or as the artist describes “mummified”) in copper thread, transforming them into beautiful artworks. The introduction promises that visitors will “rediscover things you already thought you knew” and when confronted with a 1976 Ford Mustang semi covered in copper thread at the entrance of the exhibition, this certainly rings true! The curation is very simple and each of the five rooms is painted either dark black or bright white forcing the copper sculptures to pop out at you. There is very little signage or printed information which encourages you to really look at and engage with the objects, and try and guess what they are from a bicycle, to keys, a pipe, tennis racket, guitar, plasma television screen, basket-ball, telephone, stethoscope, ladder, ropes suspended from floor to ceiling and more. It is easy to dismiss the skill in these sculptures, and it is only when comparing Anderson’s pieces to the Ford Mustang which the public are invited to “mummify” that you appreciate the artists’ attention to detail and thought about how light will reflect off each sculpture. Covering the objects in copper tread also shifts your understanding of them from a design perspective, as all colour and detail is removed leaving just the outline and overall shape. There is more to this exhibition than shiny, pretty things however – and Anderson’s choice of the word “mummify” to describe her use of copper thread immediately brings archaeology to mind, and raises interesting questions about how we preserve the present, how we store memories today, and with social media on the increase sinisterly observes that “our memories might soon become disembodied and live exclusively online”.

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