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John Furse

John Furse was responsible for  a review of TSWA Four Cities Project that appeared in Art Monthly, October 1990. The review ran across two pages of Art Monthly 140, October 1990. Donald Rodney was one of a number of artists who made work for the TSWA Four Cities Project.

An investigation of circulatory systems, from one entity to another, and back again, lay at the heart of Rodney’s commission for TSWA Plymouth 1990, Visceral Canker. In its original context, Visceral Canker was installed in the nocturnal bowels of Drake’s Island Battery, off the coast of Plymouth, a maritime city in the south west of England, with a pronounced association with seafaring, trade, exploration and so on. Also known as Garden Battery, Mount Edgecumbe, or the Palmerston gun-battery (after the 19th century British Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston, under whose watch the battery was commissioned), this was one of a series of fortifications built around Plymouth Sound during the 1860s as part of a programme of defensive enhancements to Britain’s naval bases. Drake’s Island Battery had a long history - right up until WWII - as a fortified site, for the purposes of defending the realm and the strategically important city of Plymouth. As an installation, Visceral Canker was perhaps a persuasive and telling undertaking, responding as it did to the formal and associated aspects of the space and environment in which it was located. Drake’s Island Battery was in some ways a stark metaphor for Rodney and his own ailing body. As a fortified site of defence, Drake’s Island Battery was perhaps not the most effective bastion. Likewise Rodney’s body, though skin, flesh and bone like other bodies, was increasingly unable to defend itself against the debilitating effects of diseases of the blood such as sickle-cell anaemia.

References to Rodney’s installation  appeared in Art Monthly, October 1990. Written by John Furse, the review provided a useful introduction to Visceral Canker. In part, it read, “…the Palmerston gun-battery, part of a complex fortress system built to defend the City of Plymouth against foreign intruders… Rodney’s two-part piece is a terse comment on the parts played by Elizabeth I and her naval commander Sir John Hawkins, a Devon man, in the development of the slave-trade. Coats of arms (there is an image of a hanged Moor in Hawkins’) are linked by transparent tubing to a simple pumping system that acts as a metaphor for the human heart and in turn, as Rodney sees it, the hearts of the nation.”

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click to show details of Exhibitions/TSWA Four Cities Project - Art Monthly review/1

»  Exhibitions/TSWA Four Cities Project - Art Monthly review/1

Review relating to an exhibition, 1990

click to show details of Exhibitions/TSWA Four Cities Project - Art Monthly review/2

»  Exhibitions/TSWA Four Cities Project - Art Monthly review/2

Review relating to an exhibition, 1990