Published on Culture 24
Home Improvements by Millie Burton, The Space, Hove, until September 25 2009
It’s not many galleries where you might turn up to find a business meeting in progress among the exhibits. But this very scene turns out not to be performance art. An exhibition really is taking place in a boardroom.
A second visit proves to be much more conducive to a viewing. The room is unoccupied. Six impressive framed photographs adorn the white walls and an executive sponsor is only too happy to set up the short accompanying film.
Home Improvements by Millie Burton is a show about junk. Her subjects include unhinged doors, disused TV sets and ripped out sink units. There’s nothing substantially wrong with any of the items. It’s just their owners were looking for something a little more in fashion.
Burton’s pictures were taken at a recycling centre. Her scenes appear to be chosen with an eye for formal beauty. The colours are muted, the lighting natural. Devoid of the gloss of showroom catalogue, the goods exude durability rather than desirability.
A small crowd of sink pedestals waits in vain to be reclaimed, but their candy colours mark them out as 80s rejects. The word champagne on a peeling sticker reminds you of a long forgotten house-warming bash. Like many of the shots here, this one is both matter-of-fact and wry.
More vacant images fade in and out of view on the five minute film. A slight breeze moves the surrounding trees but a chintzy pink lampshade and unwanted boot remain stubborn, static and conspicuous. They may well have come from one of Brighton’s many renovated homes.
To put such an anti-consumerist statement into a corporate setting is a bold move, but the show is reportedly liked by the business folk who use the building. Darren Connolly, from sponsors Mentor, says the photography “seems to work well in a business environment.” And the alternative, he added, was getting something in from Ikea.