Art imitates life on a regular basis. The week before Christmas, en route to Waverley Station after a meeting, I dropped into Edinburgh’s Fruitmarket Gallery to check out a new exhibition of work by sculptor Emma Hart. Straddling the ground floor space and the airy upper level, it brings together two recent bodies of work. The first is Mamma Mia, a major installation made following a residency in Italy, and the second is Banger, made as a response to both Mamma Mia and the airy upper space in the Fruitmarket Gallery.
There’s a teasing technological bent to Hart’s work which is playful and provoking. Mamma Mia is made up of ten large shiny ceramic dome-like objects with a decorated interior which hang from the ceiling. An 11th one lies on the floor. They project large comic book speech bubbles onto the floor. At intervals, some of them are sliced through by the shadows of ceiling fans made from giant cutlery. There’s an everyday space-age feel to it.
Upstairs, Banger moves us subtly from the domestic to the outside world; namely a Hart-like view of the ways in which we navigate our lives by car. The first work you encounter is a riff on a familiar sight; headlights in a rear-view mirror. It introduces you to the rest of the work.
A few days later, I spotted a Tweet from a former colleague, the estimable journalist Melanie Reid, in which she joked her “new girl crush” was writer Ali
Smith. Reid had been to an event at the Fruitmarket at which Smith had read aloud her chapter from a book on Banger. The story was, said Reid, a “brain-stretching crossover of literature and art”. Intrigued, I tuned into Smith reading her story on the Fruitmarket’s Facebook page. I won’t spoil it but it’s about a car that’s too smart for its own good. As I said, art imitates life.
Emma Hart: Banger, The Fruitmarket Gallery, 45 Market Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1DF, 0131 225 2383, www.fruitmarket.co.uk, until February 3