Bohemian Pearl: Erin Singleton. Vesey Room, Bampton Library

The Oxford Times: Bohemian Pearl: Erin Singleton. Vesey Room, Bampton Library Bohemian Pearl: Erin Singleton. Vesey Room, Bampton Library

Tucked away near the church, in the picturesque town of Bampton, Erin Singleton, a perceptive artist, has mounted a thought-provoking exhibition on the 1930s through to the 1960s. Using wood, paint and different printing techniques, she selects found objects, coins, buttons, photographs and games, to create her assemblages that represent chance and mutability. Her ‘family’ series illustrate changing fashions in the domestic scene with disturbing intimations of gambling, drinking and abuse. Erin’s grandmother was very strict with her children, hence the tiny but cruel clothes hangers. Each collage features a paper bird affected by time; the first one is pure and perfect, while the wings of the second bird are singed, indicating wear and tear, History and nostalgia infuse this exhibition. In her greeting cards Erin plays with pop, propaganda slogans and advertising as “pin-up girls and suburban housewives take centre stage . . . during a time of great social upheaval and political unrest”. In one of ‘The War Girls’ series, reminiscent of propaganda war posters, a sexy silhouette of a girl leans provocatively against a dartboard with the text ‘keep ’em firing!’ showing her to be the real target.

As an American living in Britain, Erin combines these two cultures. Her assemblage, entitled ‘come find me’, conveys travel, chance and the search for home. A toolbox, divested of its lid, displays birds flying over an old map of Britain superimposed on one of Iowa, while a cut-out picture-book rabbit vainly tries to blow a tune on an old tin oil-can just out of reach; all this against the background of random draught pieces and bingo numbers. For one of her necklaces four imperfect turquoise circles, made of polymer clay, are suspended on a silver wire, bringing to mind the circularity of history, while her whimsical crochet mug-holders remind us that women continue to enjoy age-old crafts like sewing and painting in social and creative ways. Those who visit Bampton for its history and for its association with Downton Abbey will enjoy this intriguing exhibition.

Vesey Room Gallery, Bampton Library, until August 28. Mondays 2.30-4.30pm, Tuesday and Wednesday 10am-4.30pm, Thursday 2.30-4.30pm, Friday 4.30-6.30pm, Sundays 10am-4.30pm.

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