Newcastle's Waygood Gallery Hosts Gerbil Artworks

By Graham Spicer | 18 July 2005
Shows a photo of a gerbil with an eaten-up book in its tank, with a woman behind it looking in

The gerbil's natural instinct to rip up the book for nesting material is effectively 're-editing' it.
Photo courtesy Waygood Gallery

A book-loving gerbil and an artist creating his new work through surprise visits are two unique new exhibitions now underway at Newcastle’s Waygood Gallery until July 30 2005.

North East artist Sally Madge has enlisted her pet gerbil to create a fly-on-the-wall artistic experiment called The Gerbil’s Guide to the Galaxy.

The rodent has been given a copy of The New Illustrated Universal Reference Book from 1933. As could be expected, the small animal has been more interested in the nest-building potential of the tome than its historic value.

Shows a photo of a gerbil with an eaten-up book

It's not clear what the gerbil would do if it had a typewriter.
Photo courtesy Waygood Gallery

Madge’s aim is to use the gerbil’s natural instinct to ‘mine’ the book for nesting material to effectively shuffle, or ‘re-edit’, the book. Eventually she plans to create a new work of art from the newly juxtaposed sections of the encyclopaedia.

Animal lovers needn’t worry about the gerbil’s wellbeing – he doesn’t live at the gallery, and is safely ensconced at the artist’s home. Fans of reality TV shows should also be kept amused by the video webcast of the gerbil’s activities.

The first result of the gerbil’s handiwork is already on display, and can be seen next to a new project by Nottingham-based artist Niki Russell.

Shows a photo of a man in a white shirt working on an artwork on the floor of an old room - he appears to be removing some masking tape and the art is made up of intersecting lines on the floor

Niki Russell is creating his work over a number of sessions by marking out sections on the gallery's floor. Photo courtesy Waygood Gallery

He is creating a work called Redrawn by using the floor of the Waygood Gallery. The work takes the form of blocks of a specific size – 650 x 800mm – and is to be created in four separate sittings. He has already completed two visits to the gallery and the other two will happen spontaneously.

“By continuing to make the work over the four visits it means that people will witness a fragmented or partial view. Hopefully the viewer will question the location of the work and their place within it. I see the process as a circle and thus it may end up where it began.”

The Waygood Gallery is an artist-run gallery and studio space which aims to promote contemporary arts.

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