Since early 2006, Batchelor has been developing a new group of sculptures, collectively titled Parapillars. Ranging from small, improvised, table-top works, to structures over three metres high, each work consists of a simple found metal support onto which are attached up to five hundred small plastic objects, toys or utensils. Each of these objects has been acquired by Batchelor during regular trawls of the Pound Shops located in Bethnal Green, Holloway, and other low-income areas of London, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Unlike much of Batchelor’s work of recent years, these are not illuminated. The colour of the work derives from the accumulation of hundreds of cheap, often tiny, plastic or metal elements – pegs, clips, combs, brushes, mirrors, cutlery, balls and children’s toys. Some works are organised around a single colour, some are arranged according to the type of object, some relate to a particular use or part of the body. Together the 23 works form a kind of forest of artificial colour.
First shown at the Talbot Rice Gallery as part of the 2007 Edinburgh Arts Festival, the work continues the artist’s research into the characteristic forms of colour in the city, into the social and cultural spaces where that colour is located. Pound Shops supply some of the cheapest goods, often plastic, mostly imported from China, to some of the poorest families living in the city. Flimsy and mass-produced, these objects carry no cultural weight and confer no social status on their owners. Their colour is a vivid marker of this lack of value, but at the same time it also offers a temporary release from these same conditions.
The ground floor space will be filled with the Parapillars The first floor space will show a wide variety of table-top sculptures and suspended works. Some of these were made in the development of the Parapillars; others are made from other objects such as cheap plastic sunglasses bought in Sao Paulo, or used electrical flex left over in the studio. In addition a range of Batchelor’s drawings from the last decade will be shown for the first time in London.
A new fully illustrated catalogue, published by the Talbot Rice Gallery, will be available. It includes an essay by Briony Fer and an interview with Pat Fisher, principal curator at Talbot Rice.
In 2008 Batchelor will be showing work in Color Chart at the Museum of Modern Art, New York – a major exhibition of post-war colour-based work. He will also be showing a new series of kinetic works as part of the first Folkestone Sculpture Triennale. Batchelor’s new book, Colour, a 240pp anthology of writings on colour since 1850, will be published by Whitechapel/MIT Press in the spring.