‘Who Are You and What Do You Want?’ is a demanding and challenging title for Jock Mooney’s exhibition. It is confrontational and almost defensive in tone given the private nature of the work displayed. In this exhibition Mooney has decided to explore and lay bare his feelings of the world; his negotiation of sadness and joy, the worry of the future yet simultaneously his excitement for it. By exploring these conflicting emotions and turmoil he exposes and makes himself vulnerable to his audience. Yet through his vulnerability there is strength, as by allowing the work to reflect his inner self, we gain access to him on a personal as well as an artistic level. It is this breaking down of personal barriers that makes the exhibition so enticing. There is no hiding behind the flamboyant colours and the circular ruffles, as these are countered by Mooney’s gruelling nightmarish assemblages on paper.

These contrasting elements compliment the space they occupy perfectly. The eye is free to travel and negotiate the space as it pleases. Whether this means it follows the framed drawings on the wall, or dances across the sculptures occupying the floor, or even observes the dangling octopus that is hung from the ceiling. There is no right or wrong to Mooney’s exhibition, there is simply pleasure. It bursts with liveliness and colour. Pompom like objects are arranged in a line reminiscent of the coiling body of a snake. A conglomeration of colours, but most noticeably that ‘art pink’ that is so current, bursts from the room. Although the objects placed within the space seem like a random and disjointed collection, they are in fact highly considered as they complement each other perfectly. There are a lot of religious motifs and references present, particularly in Mooney’s minute floor-based sculptures and it is these themes that aid the correlation between the objects.

As well as an exciting visual bombardment of objects, there is also an audio element to the exhibition. Choral verse travels through the gallery space and is beautiful yet eerie. As a result there is an underlying tone of melancholy to the entire experience, as although the sculptures within the exhibition are brightly coloured, the songs seem to drain the vibrancy of the colour through their hollow tones. Despite these elements of sadness, Mooney’s iconic use of humour is still present. His highly intricate pen drawings depict grotesque but humorous creatures and his titles such as The Curse of the UHT Guacamole Snowman and Now No Leg Warmers maintain this tone of wit. It would not be a true Mooney exhibition without the presence of satire but in this exhibition his utilisation of it has been cautious and carefully considered; this collection of work is no joke. The exhibition is a journey through Mooney’s energetic psyche and not only is it incredibly fun and colourful, but it is also serious. Yet through careful balance and distribution of work Mooney is able to convey his conflicts of sadness and joy in a highly articulate manner.

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.