Olivia Plender builds on her research with playful learning environments at MK Gallery

Mark Sheerin | 08 May 2012
Colour photo of a gallery installation which represents a 1970s television studio
Olivia Plender, Newsroom (2008), Installation view from The Greenroom: Reconsidering the Documentary and Contemporary Art, Hessel Museum, CCS Bard, New York© Image courtesy and copyright the artist
Exhibition: Olivia Plender: Rise Early, Be Industrious, MK Gallery, Milton Keynes, until June 17 2012

Thirty-something artist Plender has indeed been industrious. Her new touring show includes posters, embroidery, video and architectural sculpture. It is a gesamtkunstwerk which makes use of all display space at MK Gallery.

But the finished product is only an iceberg tip compared with this artist’s research based practice. In the current show she sheds light on the culture of early 20th century trade fairs, the educational bias of 1970s television studios, the use of board games to elevate and inform, plus the playful surrounds of Google’s office and the knowledge based workplace in general.

And that’s not to mention the various interests Plender has had to leave out of the current show: spiritualism, youth movements, and comic books to name a few. (Though perhaps the figurations will change when she takes this solo show to Arnolfini, Bristol and CCA, Glasgow.)

It will not be hard for visitors to learn something of their own. You are encouraged to explore the architecture and to play the board games. The less academic flip side to Plender’s archive trawl is a fun-looking environment, which adds colour to the white cube, and brings the historical observations into the vivid moment.

  • Open Tuesday-Friday 12pm-8pm (from 11am Saturday; 11am-5pm Sunday). Admission free.

Visit Mark Sheerin's contemporary art blog and follow him on Twitter.
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