A View Of The ‘Lost & Found’ Exhibition
In The Context Of Applied Arts In The 20th Century
Mike Badger’s work ,shown at Bristol Museum (Nov 1998 – Jan 1999) has a raw, unrefined quality ,although he describes himself as a creator of ‘re-cycled tin sculptures’ ,the exhibition combines photographs ,collages and sculpture.The wall images are inspired by his childhood memories of the freak colour of poor photography and cheap overprinting.He also uses native American images and quotes,which make us question western consumerism and greed.He is very conscious that the nation’s wealth has come from the exploitation of innocent people ,taking their land and natural resources.The sculptures are made from re-cycled tin ,including cans,tea caddies ,graters and whisks,the large fish is particulary captivating with it’s scales made from tin lids.
With Mike Badger’s work one initially sees the image of the sculpture and is then drawn into the imaginative way he has used everyday objects to make it.He says that the found object ‘starts to make itself’ catching his imagination and becoming the medium.
Take the example of tins that are corrugated to give them strength -they evoke the planes of the twenties and thirties ,which made the same use of lightweight metal.It is only when the humble tins are are opened that they take on the form of something more exciting ,beautiful, modern and significant.
Inspiration comes partly from the folk art of Africa and Asia but he is also influenced by Da Da and Anti Art ,such as Duchamps ‘Snow Shovel’ ,Picasso’s ‘Bulls Head’ (made from a bicycle saddle and handle bars)or Man Ray’s ‘Flat Iron with Tacks’ which he describes as ‘creating a beautiful parody’.'The chance element of finding something (synchronicity) plays a major part’.
The wall images are an important part of his work,he began by making simple collages from fruit wrappers and found pieces of paper,which led on to photomontages.Influenced by the work of John Heartfield,he was excited by the idea of juxtaposing -putting someone or something into an alien background.It was the two dimensional work that led him intially into cutting up tin cans and continuing this fascination .His work is shown in Museums and Art Galleries ,museums are particularly important as the work is seen by a large cross section of people.He would like this work to present something which may evoke questions in the viewer or maybe make them laugh.
Mike Badger’s work and influences clearly fits into the category of Fine Art .The American artist Alexander Calder made several small tin sculptures of cars,animals and birds.The American Artist Jasper Johns was also influences by DA DA and Surrealism,he is well known for his paintings of the American Flag which at the time they where made ,brought offence -people unsure as to whether he was mocking the American flag ,or honouring it.Then there is also Andy Warhol’s print image of the ‘Campbells Soup Tin’.
Third world artists have obviously developed alot of skill and expertise -they manage to be creative with very little resources,yet some of this work ,such as the Mexican toy machines and African tin toys has changed ,due to the demand in the western market.The original nature, function and purpose has changed.
By Julia Green
Art Student Bristol 1999
‘Lost & Found’ is (yet another) metaphor for life’s experience,you will just have to make what you want of it ,as the artist has.Human beings will,if left to their own devices like Robinson Crusoe,design there own paradise by using what they like ,rather than what they should like.’Lost & Found is environmental,economic and aesthetic,and for some of us ,a kind of paradise.
By Richard Gray
Director of Galleries, Manchester 1997