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Mr Monkey sees And Scent of Pine and the Woodthrush Singing... at the Castlefield Gallery, 5th July

Mr Monkey went into Manchester to see And Scent of Pine and the Woodthrush Singing..., a solo exhibition by Hilary Jack at the Castlefield Gallery.
Mr Monkey looking at Reprieve by Hilary Jack In The Beginning : Stag in a Blue Dress by Hilary Jack Hilary Jack collects discarded objects from a variety of sources and then restores, combines and transforms them, sometimes restoring them to their original locations. Obviously, for And Scent of Pine and the Woodthrush Singing..., her first solo exhibition in the UK, she hasn't restored the found objects to their original locations.

The first exhibit Mr Monkey looked at properly was Reprieve, a photo of a helium Congratulations balloon floating in a forest. The finding, reinflating and photographing of this balloon was the starting point of the exhibition; Mr Monkey is fairly sure the title is a reference to the government's decision not to sell the nation's woodlands off to the highest bidder.

Beside the photo, Mr Monkey saw Stag in a Blue Dress, the first of the six pieces of the In The Beginning set. Most of these pieces feature broken china figurines with vaguely disturbing heads. The others - Ram with a Golden Tooth, Woman With No Head and Sage Bush Hair, Odd Couple, Endangered Species, and Teen Spirit - are downstairs.
Mr Monkey looking up at Hybrid by Hilary Jack Mr Monkey peering into Souvenir by Hilary Jack One of the most noticable exhibits - for one thing, it can be seen from outside the gallery - is Hybrid, a smallish tree suspended from the highest point of the gallery ceiling. The tree dangles a few inches off the floor, and its lower parts have been lathe-turned into a table leg or balustrade. Mr Monkey wasn't sure whether the turned wood was added to the tree, or the turner could turn the whole tree, but he was very impressed by it.

Mr Monkey was delighted by Souvenir, where the viewer peers into an eye-shaped knothole to see a slideshow of found pictures. The slides - also found objects - show woodland landscapes and people enjoying picnics. As well as the fun of peeping through a small peep-hole, Mr Monkey got a sniff of the forest from the surrounding wood.
Mr Monkey avoiding water pouring from Idyll by Hilary Jack Wandering the rest of the basement level Mr Monkey saw Reflection, a concoction of wood, mirrors and a seaside print, the rest of the In the Beginning series (Mr Monkey did wonder exactly where Jack found so much human hair for Teen Spirit), Dead Wood, a photo showing a stuffed fox in a 'harvested' (or destroyed) forest, and The Late Great Planet Earth which uses a series of postcards and photos of water features to create a collage of a river from source to sea.

Finally, Mr Monkey examined Idyll. Water is piped through a painting of a rural scene, across a rather rickety platform covered in live vegetation and pours down into a metal bucket. Most of the water lands in the bucket, though there was enough on the floor to make Mr Monkey tread very carefully around the piece.

All in all, And Scent of Pine and the Woodthrush Singing... is one of the most intriguing exhibitions Mr Monkey has seen for some time.

After he'd finished looking at the exhibition, Mr Monkey headed across town to see Structure, Angie Atmadjaja's second sound installation at the Chinese Arts Centre.

And Scent of Pine and the Woodthrush Singing... runs until July 24th.

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