Scottish artist Charles Avery (born 1974), born in Oban, works in the urban environment of London and on the island of Mull. Since 2004, his work has revolved around a fictional island, which feels more like Blackpool than Mull, and has become his lifetime’s project as he narrates, through his paintings, drawings, installations and films, the story of the Islanders who live and play there, along with the structures, the fauna, the exotic creatures and birds and the water which is a constant theme of the island with natural and artificial pools.
His major works focus on the Jadindagadendar, the island’s municipal park in the town of Onomatopoepia at the centre of the island, with structures which are reflective of leisure buildings of the 1960’s and 70’s, including a monkey house that perhaps takes inspiration from Cedric Price’s Aviary in Regent’s Park Zoo (1963), but here altered and turned into a monkey house. There is however an edge to the park – it should be a place of fun, yet it feels artificial and controlled and leaves the question of why, if this is an island, is the park and zoo at the centre and not along the coast? Perhaps the Islanders are trapped here and cannot escape?
The latest installment of this narrative, “The People and Things of Onomatopoeia: Part 2” is on show at the Pilar Corrias Gallery in London and shows other aspects of the town, including students, sitting chatting, perhaps awaiting their lecturer, joking on a staircase and wearing hats that could be traditional mortar boards or could be dunces caps in addition to items brought from the island to London such as the Square Circle tables and chairs and bookends from the zoo.
As the story unfolds, we await Part 3…..