Joy Gerrard at PEER

Protest Crowd

In light of the attacks on Paris it was unusual not to see great gatherings of people, united in grief, in solidarity and hope. Of course they were urged not to convene as the perpetrators were still at large and the authorities were fearful of a reprise or further attacks. Just today the UK took a different stand to a considered response to such a horror as the siege at the Batalan; don’t play dead, run and hide safely, then contact the police. Sometimes the individual is wise and the crowd is stupid, sometimes collective sense is greater. Of what there is no doubt, is that we the human race, have huge capacity to want to join together — all over the world. 

Irish born Joy Gerrard presents in PEER’s two galleries a series depicting these huge crowds across the globe. They are detailed enough to merge with memories, of TV reports, to think back to the Arab Spring, or certainly Middle Eastern tragedy. There are also Western cities shown, enough to know they are, though lacking the specifics to be able to say, ah yes, Paris.

There are large paintings on canvas and more domestically-sized framed works all sharing this wonderful hybrid sense of neither being fully real or completely abstract. The original source material used has often been taken from TV and so in some cases the view is from a news helicopter — above the ground swell, adding other opportunities for deconstructing the image. 

Demonstrations and celebrations, the right to assemble, or the uprising against such a right being denied; it’s a rich melting pot in itself. Civic space, by its very definition, should be for the freedom of its people and under so many regimes this is impossible. Gerrard explores these arguments and makes thousands of tiny marks to visualise the crowds making our immediate history; these are contemporary and global concerns, perhaps made even more valid by the recent horrors across the Channel. 

Literature introducing the exhibition states that, ‘Crowd is both noun and verb.’ Gerrard has produced a strong body of work here, itself both visually complex and abstract while fully recognisable and understood. until 28th November