A Review by Oxford Mail Art Critic
COMING DOWN: THE RADCLIFFE INFIRMARYNew work by ROB JUDGES
An enormous operating table of potentially lethal implements entrusted in the hands of those that seem so effortlessly at ease with the magnitude of their actions. Where white coats and facemasks are exchanged for high vis jackets and hard hats, these works show a different genre of surgeons and nurses reinventing and reinvigorating the space, quite literally breathing new leases of life as they break open, dismember, and piece buildings (not people) back together.
The Radcliffe Infirmary feels incredibly masculine, incredibly tough.
Worker bees strain under the pressures of time and physically exhausting hard graft. A cheeky grin from inside the towering phallus of a crane hints at the uneasy humour so often uncovered in shows of group mentality that know no boundaries as light relief is injected into the banality of the quotidian.
Photographing the skeleton - the infrastructure that enabled this site to tick for 242 years - this exhibition echoes with a profound sense of loss.
As Judges walked roofless corridors, discovered and documented discarded rotas, internal messages, abandoned fixtures and fittings he has obviously made a strong emotional connection with this place, and allowed his imagination to relive incredibly personal and life-changing moments in time.
These are potent photographs, and this is an exhibition not to be missed.
At the same time, the victorious merman Triton still appears to drink defiantly from a dry fountain at the front of the main building of the Radcliffe Infirmary. He stands firm, determined, knowing. He is waiting to gulp the water that will pour once again when the site reopens as the new University Quarter – this is a transitional period, and for all the works in this exhibition that may appear melancholy, this show is imbued with the sense of exciting times ahead.
There is no escaping that Coming Down: The Radcliffe Infirmary packs a very poignant punch and shows a much more thoughtful, considerate perspective of the discerning eye that spends much time discreetly documenting the academically associated Great and Good.
In this exhibition Rob Judges documents the magnificence, and emotional magnitude of movement, change, and progression; and on this occasion, it’s his work that is put on a pedestal (albeit a prudently unassuming one) and allowed to shine in Art Jericho.
Stirling Museum: Landscapes of Scotland
Royal Photographic Society Bath: The Lake District
Carlisle Museum: The Lake District
ICA London: Oxford unseen
2XArt Week, Oxford
OUP Oxford Portraits
Group Shows at AoP gallery, London
Coach House gallery, Abingdon
The Jam Factory Oxford
Arts Council Grant
Artist in residence, Chiltern Edge School, Oxon
Workshop John Lyon School London