Coming of the Turnip Heads

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The Independent Culture
Coming of the Turnip Heads

Six months ago, William Longden approached nine other artists to cooperate on an exhibition. "We wanted a whole show," he says, "not a show of 10 individuals." The contributors were asked to respond to "environment". "But not the environment," says Alan Marsh. "We're making an environment. And the title `Antipodes' isn't just about opposites, but expressing the other side of your world." Marsh makes his living photographing food, and he's offering the other side of that world with portraits of vegetables. "I'm looking at humble vegetables in ways you wouldn't normally." He's right. Lover Carrots is a picture of two of the roots intertwined, apparently in the throes of coition. "They grew like that," says Marsh, anxious to disclaim manipulation. But he has set them in a silver frame, reminiscent of Orthodox religious art, but made of flattened bean tins. He develops this imagery with sprouting turnip heads presented on the desert of a white plate, set in a Star of David shaped frame. "It's the Magi. I call it Three Wise Turnip Heads. I'm elevating things not usually noticed to iconic form. But there's a degree of humour - I'm not deadly serious about anything." This re-examination of the familiar is common to several of the artists. Longden collects body parts, plaster casts of bare flesh, especially pregnant torsos. "My Three Graces is a modern interpretation of a classical theme." It's all about rebirth, pagan sensibility and nurturing the future, but it is not entirely clear. Longden's vision is, he explains: "Cosmic, rather than planetary." Quite so.

The Tannery, 49-57 Bermondsey St, SE1: 12noon-7pm, Tue-Sat, 15 Mar-5 Apr