Leaving behind his painterly pedigree in a flurry of wood chips, sawdust and carving off-cuts, British artist Ben Turnbull’s latest, rather more sculptural exhibition is a lesson in how best to work that trusty British favourite – the artfully veiled shock tactic.
With reclaimed wooden school desks as his choice of canvas, Turnbull has delicately carved into seven of the pockmarked, pen-scratched surfaces, leaving the negative imprint of a deadly weapon upon each.
Whilst Turnbull's process may at first sound a little contrived - when taken in contrast with the exposed innocence of the school-worn desks, his remarkably adept carvings evoke an unexpectedly poignant effect.
Employing impressions of guns, knives, grenades and even space-age sharp shooters - the desks are transformed from relics of a childhood past into intricately formed, vaguely intimidating reflections of the rapidly changing face of contemporary culture.
An out-there comment on the dwindling role of innocence in today’s increasingly weapon-wielding society; Turnbull’s work is an elegant synthesis of hard-hitting imagery, accomplished artistry and low-fi aesthetics - encapsulating both the diminishing memories and the escalating fears of inner-city youth.
Despite the undeniably negative undertones of the seven works on show, Turnbull's desks inject a surprising dose of light-relief into what has undoubtedly become one of the past decades most unpleasant subjects.
Taking shape in West London’s Eleven Gallery this month, the exhibition, ironically entitled ‘I Don’t Like Mondays’ will remain in-situ until early November.