Investigating the regular spaces footballers inhabit, the artists examine the heightened emotions of enduring tribal happenings, which are often all too quickly dismissed to permanent archives of public amusement and judgement – perhaps akin to the circus side show of yesteryear of base pleasure amongst the masses. The Referee’s a wanker? – place him in the stocks in the town square for all to admire and goad.
The exhibition title - Magic Sponge refers to the medical treatment of an injury often resulting in a miraculous recovery. The exhibition embraces these pitch protocols, fictions and personalities. The artists respond diversely to football celebrating: collective effervescence, kit design, place and players. Magic Sponge responds to a global dedication for football through personal experiences of playing football, and personal intrigues with the functionality of the game and eventful happenings that follow.
Hercules Road presents artists: Holly Birtles, Luke Burton, Tin Tin Cooper, David Micheaud and Phillip Reeves.
Holly Birtles re-appropriates found images of female and male football players, often sourcing nuanced and visibly diverse emotive reactions to highs and lows of the game. Birtles seeks a contentious performance, dislocating this moment from the original context. She works digitally and in the dark room to overlap and inform alternative realities.
Luke Burton paints a football that has been warped and stretched to a monstrous degree. Abject, bodily, and imbued with its own agency, the football sits in the refined void of Farrow and Ball Setting Plaster emulsion. It's accompanied by a bunch of grapes that is animated and suggestive of an ambiguous form of writing or doodling as if acting out a game where image and language absurdly acknowledge each other, playfully, antagonistically.
Tin Tin Cooper’s works appropriate popular culture images and cartoon illustrations (football, self-defence, war, yoga and pseudo-spirituality fads), which are then deconstructed by using installation, neon light, video, and painting. Here, Cooper presents her Ugly Mug and Screen Shot Collages series. Throughout the Ugly Mug series she has created digital collages printed on typical English mugs, seeking to poke fun at the capitalistic side of the beautiful game where players are now plastered with sponsorship logos and merchandising. The Screenshot Collages (2015) were made in a bizarre premonition a couple months before the surprising Brexit vote and the following dramas of the English and German teams at the Champions League. The collages use the digital language we know best today - the browser window.
David Micheaud paints observations from everyday overlooked scenarios capturing fleeting moments of light and colour. Micheaud features a painting of a coat hanger that has been left dangling on a clothes hook. The hanger exists within a striking, brightly painted changing room at Mile End stadium where Micheaud has played seven-a-side football for over ten years. The painting informs a nostalgia for Monday night football whereby a weekly pilgrimage presents a familiar setting. The changing rooms maintain the same, yet the team members shift and rotate each year.
Phillip Reeves explores how football uniforms can dazzle. Reeves intricately recreates the World Cup 94’ Mexican goalkeeper Campos’ bold, beautiful and block coloured mayhem in his own unique method of using the tools of tailoring and painting directly onto pattern cutting paper. The artist is enthralled by the back-story of the kit. At only 5ft 6, Campos’ slight stature for a goalkeeper meant his tactical approach would involve rushing out at attackers and block shots in a chaotic and exciting manner, and it worked. Campos collaborated with the kit manufacturers and using lairy colour combinations from his days as a surfer in Acapulco, he hoped that the combination of dazzling kit and quickly closing down the ball would be a technicolour nightmare for the attacker to deal with, putting off their composure to shoot.
Text by Holly Birtles and Phillip Reeves