Giant snails & tiny lions, View Gallery, Bristol

"Disproportionate, incohesive and irrational, Giant Snails and Tiny Lions stretches the boundaries of our imagination, making us question sensibility and grab our attention."
image copyright Glenn Ibbotson

 I made a point of finding the View Gallery on my recent flying visit to Bristol (to pick up work not selected for the RWA Drawing Open - another story).  The gallery is down on the Hotwell Road, right on the Floating Harbour, which was a bit of a no-go area when I was in Bristol in the 70's.  The area then was scruffy and a bit uninteresting.  The docks themselves were either working (and dangerous) or derelict (and dangerous), and out of bounds in either case.  Now the entire harbour has been transformed into a busy "amenity" area and it was buzzing with Bank Holiday visitors last weekend.  A useful little ferry carries you across from one side to another - the last time I was on the water in the Floating Harbour was a very long time ago, learning about the Health&Safety concerns of the diving team whose job was to inspect the ancient workings of the lock gates and harbour walls.  Presumably their successors are still around, and even busier nowadays.
View Gallery faces away from the water, and provides an excellent space for exhibitions.  "Giant snails and tiny lions" is a fascinating mix of work, making for a very unsettling experience - in the best sense of the phrase.  This is a show where the hand and eye of the curator are more than usually evident:  a sense of the bizarre and a taste for the work of highly skilled artists make this a cohesive whole despite the eclectic styles on view.  More-or-less figurative work; playing with scale and perceptions of reality (and realism); juxtaposing animal and human in disturbing but also highly attractive imagery; witty and thoughtful.  A bronze man with a fox's head carries a dead pheasant - a girl with a hare's head tears up a ticket - a tiny diver contemplates a (real, full size) sink plug - Bacchus in a motorised wheelchair is accompanied by Miss Piggy - tiny lions: painted on a leaf in outer space or modelled wrestling with a horribly slimy octopus - fairy tales, angels and children in an uncomfortable world - a naked man struggling inside a box.  It ought to be nasty, but somehow it isn't - just disturbing enough to be thought-provoking and a little scary, but with an underlying shared sense of humour taking the edge off the true horror of the situations displayed.