This exhibition by British artist Olivia Plender (b.1977) brings together sculpture, embroidery, posters, board games, architectural models and a video produced over the last ten years. Devised as a ‘museum of communication’, four room-sized installations are organised thematically, drawing on a broad range of references to explore how attitudes towards mass education have evolved over time.
The Cube Gallery revolves around board games and printed material to encourage play and participation as a way of learning while the Middle Gallery looks to early twentieth century world fairs to examine the representation of the work ethic and trade. The Long Gallery re-creates a 1970s style TV studio which provides a platform for discussion around the use of television as a cultural and educational device and the Entrance Space imitates a Google-style working environment to demonstrate how distinctions between work and leisure, public and private have collapsed in recent times.
With its strong architectural dimension, involving the construction of platforms and models and a deliberate emphasis on play and game-like structures, the exhibition invites visitors to participate and ‘perform’ while considering how social roles and models of society have been constructed over the last few hundred years.
Olivia Plender: Rise Early, Be Industrious, is an exhibition in three episodes presented with Arnolfini, Bristol and Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow.
Exhibition generously supported by Milton Keynes Museum. With thanks to The Open University. Olivia Plender has received support from the National Lottery through Arts Council England.