Naked, vulnerable, lands David key gallery invitations

NUDITY and vulnerability were explored in a stunning installation at Todmorden Art College.

David Featherston’s installation, Contact Boundary, was hidden away in its own white cocoon when it appeared at the HND Final Year Show, at Todmorden Art College.

Visitors who ventured into the small room off to one side of the main exhibition may have been surprised by the installation they discovered. On entering the room draped with white waxed sheets they were confronted by three wax screens encased in steel frames and the artist himself, naked and vulnerable, in three silent colour films.

Each film showed the artist exploring the different sized boxes in which he was confined. And each screen was attached to scaffolding poles and appeared countless times with the aid of mirrors below and above.

What started life as an examination of man’s vulnerable self has developed into an installation that has caught the imagination and the eye of art critics. David has been offered an opportunity to exhibit his piece at Dean Clough Art Gallery, Halifax, later in the year.

“The offer by Dean Clough has left me in a state of shock,” admitted David, who has also been asked to take the piece to Todmorden Unitarian Church early next year.

“In our society it isn’t acceptable to be vulnerable: we have to show our strengths and if we show our vulnerable side we leave ourselves open, which isn’t seen as acceptable. By being nude I wanted to show my own vulnerability. I hope people bring their own experiences to this: I would like to reach out and make human contact.

“The small boxes didn’t allow much movement but in the larger box I had a chance to explore the boundaries and respond to the space.”

David spent hours in the boxes to create the 40-minute film loops for each one. And thankfully he was not disturbed in his studio at Robinwood Mill, Cornholme.

“It’s remarkable that I don’t feel uncomfortable with my nudity on show in this piece: I thought I would but I don’t. But I’m glad no one knocked on the door when I was doing it because it might not have been easy to explain,” he added.

And the mirrors? “The mirrors are a recent addition but now they form an intrinsic part. They enhance the presentation and add the infinity effect.”

David was one of 13 students showcasing their work in the Todmorden Art College’s HND Final Show. Most of the students, including David, hope to go on to the Visual Arts BA Degree next year.

College tutor, Mike Walker, said the students had put on an excellent show, which makes next year’s BA course potentially very exciting.

“We have some very good artists here at the moment and a few who are exceptional. They’ve really raised the bar and they’ve got the potential to go to a different level,” he said.