The gallery opens at ten o’clock. Lone parents bring their children through the heavy door and into the gallery. In Summer the large door is propped open but today it is raining so the door stays closed and awkward. Wet pushchair tyres leave trails across the floor and rainwater drips off the see-through plastic hoods that protected the occupants from the rain and wind. Parents and children make their way around the front desk and go up the ramp to the room. Soon, you can hear the children playing in the music and movement class. There are no visitors to distract from the banging of tambourines and drums, the faint strumming of a guitar struggles to compete with the percussion. Later, newly arrived parents with their pushchairs gather outside the room waiting for the first class to end. There is a lot of reversing and wheeling of pushchairs as the arrivals and departures collide on the ramp. A few hellos are exchanged, and some leave the gallery and others make for the café. A child screams loudly in the café and a mother shushes back. The high ceiling and concrete walls rebound the sound, you think you hear it twice. The waiting parents push gently into the room, polite and smiling as they go in. Laughter and the clash of tambourines and bells filters back into the gallery as the second class begins. Meanwhile, in the main gallery, the exhibits relax without visitors to entertain. The sculptures stand waiting to convey their menace on an unsuspecting audience. They gather dust on their ragged clothed limbs and the undisturbed air allows it to settle and thicken. No one sees the dust for now. They stand still, there are no footstep vibrations to make them gently sway. The air of violence in the room hangs in limbo, it needs a person to enter before it becomes palpable. A visitor to this room becomes an additional member of the cast, their thoughts bring the statues to life, then the fear can become very real for some. A visitor comes for the exhibition. He takes the steps to the gallery and disappears through the door into the shadows. He is back ten minutes later and says nothing as he looks through the exhibition book. He eventually puts the book down, turns and leaves. No comment, no interaction and no feedback. More visitors arrive. Some ask what the exhibition is all about before they go in, others ask the same question as they come out. The children leave, pushed out by parents going to the next part of their day. The big door is tackled, one man holds it open to allow three women to wheel pushchairs out into the rain. The gallery goes quiet and another morning ends. Quietly the dust settles back down, and the menace abates till the next visitor.
Soul Snatcher Possession by Tim Shaw is part of the What Remains exhibition at the Exchange Gallery. For more information please go to: http://newlynartgallery.co.uk/activities/tim-shaw/