‘The Nude Ignity’ is an exhibition that sits very comfortably in the art world of today. This is primarily due to Oliver Braid’s choice of colours; the ‘art pink’ that is currently so fashionable and the mint green which compliments it perfectly. The colours were what initially drew me into the room containing Braid’s work as there’s something incredibly appealing about their block boldness. They are so matter of fact, so unapologetic that you can’t help but be captivated by them. Although they needed no more attention, the colours were further emphasised by the stark contrast the unpainted wooden sculpture provided. Varnish as well as paint were absent from it and it therefore maintained its studio aesthetic. I felt like I was back in a wood workshop in school, admiring what the professionals had managed to construct and comparing it to my fragile experiments that would no doubt collapse at any minute!

Looking into Braid’s sculpture is an exciting, intimate experience. There’s a little hut at the top and a little staircase descending a section of the sculpture. I felt as if there should be miniature people running up and down these stairs. Once I had finished observing all the alcoves within the sculpture, I was then able to circulate round to the other side to be met with a giant explosion of noodles! It is almost like a hay bale but in noodle form! Everyday noodles fill the floor and exhibition space as they spill and overflow out of Braid’s sculpture. They are present in such excess that I suddenly began to become aware of their faint scent. I felt torn between being totally amused and being utterly perplexed as I registered what I was looking at. Having imagined little people inhabiting the hut on top of the sculpture, I realised that this profusion of noodles was, in effect, a ‘nest’ for a very strange inhabitant indeed. Viewed through a black tube, like a drain pipe emerging from the noodles, a naked, hairless, pink, three-eyed, multi-breasted homunculus is seen moving around in a dark space. Once I overcame the surprise of finding noodles and their comically grotesque, animated inmate, I began to realise what an interesting line of enquiry Braid had set up for himself. In his work Braid interrogates the definition of objects and how they are applied in relation to social situations. The connotations of the noodles are therefore highly explicit in his presentation of them, particularly as they address elements that include what it means to be living now. Although Braid investigates dense topics – as shown in his talk presented at Glasgow School of Art in 2014, ‘The Certainty of Insignificance’ – he approaches it all with an infectious air of playfulness.

This playfulness is present throughout the entirety of ‘The Nude Ignity’, particularly as there are upside-down torsos lining the wall, echoing the creature hidden in the noodles. These instantly make me think of Peter Pan losing his shadow and having to chase it round Wendy Darling’s room. It is a throwback to childhood which creates a nostalgia that doesn’t necessarily belong to Braid’s room of objects. Yet his work often revolves around a dislocated narrative so perhaps this experience of childhood is not so misplaced. Braid does in fact address twenty-first century thinking in a lot of his work and of course childhood nostalgia forms a core component of this. Braid confronts himself with questions, though these feel far from answered and more a part of an active and ongoing investigative process. Braid’s pieces bubble with the liveliness of life and his inquisitive mode of working is reflected in his broad range of material. Simply within ‘The Nude Ignity’ there is an excessive range that includes curly fries, metal, plexiglass, monitors and noodles to name but a few. The mix is very evocative of household items; emphasised by the presence of food in the form of burnt curly fries. There is something subtly hilarious about that and it is this humour sitting so perfectly along Braid’s more serious overtones that makes his work so interesting.

Camilla Irvine-Fortescue is an artist and writer and at the time of writing is studying for a BA Hons Fine Art degree at Northumbria University.

http://themindofmilla.com