Aptly for an exhibition of graphite and glasswork, Alison Kinnaird’s Luminesce is a gentle and delicate affair. Housed in the small spaces of Gallery 369 – sadly soon to become yet another office block – this exhibition pleasantly ponders upon the fragility and value of both human nature and the natural world.
Underscored by the sound of minimalist plucks upon a harp, a tour of Kinnaird’s collection offers some enjoyable artwork. Adam and Eve - two uterine globules of glass suspended on string from the ceiling - offer a glimpse into the intimacy of gestation. Foetal forms are etched delicately and enchantingly into the heart of each orb. Such warm organicism is offset by the structural geometry of some of Kinnaird’s other works. A number of prismatic pieces depict figural glimpses into both domestic and city life through images that shift from scene to scene as one walks around the room; effigies appear and disappear dependent upon the side from which the works are viewed, emphasising the constant subjectivity of perception.
Perhaps most remarkable of all Alison Kinnaird’s works is the gallery’s centrepiece: A display featuring multiple rows of razor-thin military men made of glass, each etched with a variant uniform and facial expression. These figures are underlit with LEDs - most with white, but those more contorted characters shot through with an ominous blood-red – used to suggest the brutality of a statistical approach to military deaths and losses. A singular pregnant female form stands among the troops, glowing with the ominous shade of scarlet and compounding the emotional weight of this light-as-air work.
Occasionally, delicacy of approach can devolve into a bland aesthetic. One major motif of the exhibition – particularly the graphite sketches - is that of feathers, flight and beautiful birds. Whilst ‘nice’ enough and undoubtedly displaying technical accomplishment, these pieces offer little for the observer to unpack. Works are also inhibited by a curation the artist herself admits is somewhat ill-judged; a blue glass disc depicting an Islamic woman and a cradled corpse has an ugly shard of mirror wedged underneath to help collect the light required for the titular luminescence – a light the artist admits is ample upon the other side of the room. Likewise, the aforementioned manifold perspective so central to the power of prismatic work is sometimes undone by placing them in awkward corners, disallowing circumnavigation.
Alison Kinnaird’s work is offers and almost meditative experience in its exploitation of the gentle and precious. Whilst not earth-shattering, this glass is occasionally intellectually penetrating and certainly very, very pretty.