Man and Eve is a space you probably wouldn't know was there unless it was pointed out to you. Tucked away behind Waterloo Station, it's an old shop space painted white and turned into a gallery. Its latest exhibition, Yard Sale Project, completes this cycle by making the gallery back into a furniture shop, highlighting the difficult boundary Man and Eve are dancing on between the wold of art and the world of craft.
Craft, and particularly the practical nature of craft-objects, seems so removed from where art defines itself today. Indeed, due to the intense practicality of many of these works on display, you can see Yard Sale Project as diametrically opposed to Richard Slee's Fit for Purpose at Hales Gallery earlier this year, in which the practical was made into impractical art.
The first floor of this exhibition features three beautifully-made chairs: one made of mixed wood, one of leather and another of plastic waste pipes. These tactile pieces highlight the connection between interior design and "art-work" that haunts many a show, and their reasonable pricing makes them incredibly lust-worthy items. As someone who has recent moved flats, I might be viewing them from the perspective of someone re-furnishing an apartment, but I would happily own and love one of them. Indeed their outlook on waste, discarded objects and usefulness brings a political stance to a fashionable, and yet somehow classic, piece of furniture.
The collection of various 'pebble' objects as you first enter the show compounds this idea, by the production of smart, trendy design pieces that question the relationship between the natural and man-made (pebbles made of wood offcuts or leather, for example); or between the decorative and the useful.
Downstairs, the more obviously gallery-art begins. A maze of waste tubes built into an installation piece force the viewer to question the aesthetics of the urban and practical. The overall visual effect of the works, however, does end up being one of a late 1990s Windows screensaver. The title of this work, Central Services (2013), makes a pun on the changeable nature of its medium from the useful to purely aesthetic. Next to this, the theme of visual/practical is again reinforced with Eero's Itch (2013), the wittiest piece by far as an Eero Aarnio puppy has been modified into a lamp – its electricity cable becoming a stretched-out lead.
Vases (2009) stands in its own darkened room: flick the light-switch and the piece comes to life, strobe lighting illuminating spinning vases of Op-art brilliance. This piece is overwhelmingly disorientating, yet impossible to look away from. By lighting white, textured vases in this way, their aesthetic nature over their practical nature is pushed to the forefront: they are beautiful and yet straight-down-the-line, the name of the installation reinforces their purpose.
Yard Sale Project is worth a visit; if for nothing else than to contemplate the definitions of art/craft/design. But I don't know how to explain it as gallery show: no-matter how beautiful, Vases are still vases, just as upstairs, however stunning and detailed, a chair is a chair is a chair.