Ingela Ihrman’s new show “Nocturne’ at the Gasworks gallery is inspired by the life and works of Swedish naturalist Jan Lindblad (1932 – 1987). In 1966 he made a film about the oilbird, a fruit eating, nocturnal species known for its clicking and shrieking noises, which was hunted to extract oil for lamps. It is the oilbird which is the focus of this exhibition – both visually and aurally.
The show recreates a nocturnal experience and is a mix of sculpture, live performance and video. It opens with a video which is an imagined gastroscopy into the digestive tract of a giant snake. Despite an idea that will not be to all tastes, this is a visually arresting entrance. Moving into the darkened gallery, you meet some beautifully crafted suspended sculptures of feathers and a newly hatched oilbird chick. These are at once both restful and a little unsettling – especially alongside the clicking and shrieking sounds.
The chick appears in the next video as a hand puppet being fed by an anxious parent. The costume is once again beautifully crafted but the feeding is forceful and excessive – perhaps the instinctive response of an endangered species. This is not a restful setting but a disturbing, if intimate, insight into the harsh life cycle of the oilbird which was forced into dark caves to avoid being hunted.
The show is a close encounter with a small corner of nature conveying both wonder at its diversity and survival instincts, but also a warning of its fragility.
Nocturne runs until 30 April in Gasworks, 155 Vauxhall St., SE11 5RH.
Open 12 – 6 Wednesday to Sunday. Entry is free.
For further information call 0207 587 5202 or visit www.gasworks.org.uk