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Mike McDonnell: Double Take at Vaila Fine Art

Mike McDonnell

An Exhibition of work by Mike McDonnell is opening at Vaila Fine Art on Saturday. There are 27 constructions and one bronze sculpture by this much loved Yell artist. This is his 13th exhibition, called Double Take. Some of the works will be familiar from his previous shows, and some, such as CLOWN HALL have been updated with MANIFESTOS 2012 to create a running commentary on Shetland‘s current political affairs. Mike’s fellow Yell islander, Amy Beth Gear, has recently included him in her college dissertation. She writes most perceptively about the function of Mike’s 3-D cartoons:

"Although not a native, Mike has lived in Shetland now for 40 years and his work is very reflective of the folklore, but also the political issues in Shetland. He worked as the Doctor on Yell until his retirement. He travelled all over the island doing house visits to the sick elderly patients. Many of these people would tell him stories. He has through time and hard work become a local of sorts..."

"He makes his images [constructions] from largely found materials and old folk stories, then he manipulates them into images that often reflect current issues."

If folklore can save a community as a "safety rope", surely McDonnell’s work is a life raft. The "power of remembering" something keeps that memory strong. The power of a piece of art that remembers something is like the power of the whole community. Art can be very powerful if in the public eye and so art can be a powerful tool in the world now.

The most recent constructions include: SKELP THE AGED, a cutting comment on the government’s care for the elderly, and TROPHY HUNTERS about the state of fishing industry. As ever, the serious message is delivered lightly, almost haphazardly, and each finished piece still manages to look covetable and decorative. Mike’s work inpires a healthy mixture of robust laughter and grave wonderment. This exhibition will not dissapoint. It might even recruit more young followers, such as Amy.

All works are for sale and the prices range from £300 to £1,300. The exhibition continues until the end of June 2012.