His dark Materials: Adie Blundell's imagination unleashed at Herbert Art Gallery and Museum

By Ben Miller | 23 November 2012
A photo of an illustration of a dark mask against a white circle and a red background
Victoriana and alchemy in Coventry© Adie Blundell
Exhibition Preview: His dark Materials, Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Coventry, until March 17 2013

It’s not often an exhibition culminates with a masked horror ball. But Adie Blundell’s collection of plaster, latex, salt and iron sculptures – taken from keys, light switches and medical equipment, with a background soundtrack of an ode to guilt and redemption by poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge – chimes perfectly with a fiendish finale.

“It was when I first received my first Thomas Salter chemistry kit from my father that I first discovered my desire to experiment,” says the local artist, presenting his solo debut as part of the Herbert’s Contemporary Art Season.

“I had always dreamt that I would have my own laboratory to research and explore the nature of chemicals and materials. So fast-forward 30 years later, I had my very own studio to discover and create in.

“Combining this interest with my love of alchemical imagery and folklore has produced this most recent body of work.

“His dark Materials is a very apt title. I use a number of processes to produce my work.

"But the most important process is the power of unleashing one’s imagination. It has manifested itself in my sculptures and sketchbooks.”

Blundell uses a series of masks to visualise the different sides of his personality. Alchemists, doctors, hypochondriacs, ancient mariners and a wolf in sheep’s clothing are among them.

He admits to multiple obsessions sparked by early family outings to museums, stately homes and monuments.

One of those passions lies in collecting Victorian ephemera. He also makes large scale, detailed drawings of albatrosses and feathered creatures.

“His work is so strangely alienating yet intriguing,” reckons Rosie Addenbrooke, of the Herbert.

“We have never previously exhibited an exhibition of its like.”

  • Open 10am-4pm (12pm-4pm Sunday). Admission free. Follow the gallery and museum on Twitter @The_Herbert.
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