All Alone Together is a gallery exhibition by Nick Turvey where he has constructed a series of three temporary sculptural installations echoing wartime concrete bunkers and Anderson air-raid shelters – domestic vernacular structures in the UK created from 1939-1945 and still present in the contemporary landscape.
“As individuals, or as nations, it is all too easy to retreat behind our defences, into our armour, dividing the world into “Me” and “Not-Me”. But the more ‘security’ we get, the more we feel we need. Everyone looks like a potential threat, when seen through a fortified lit window.“
The wartime buildings were more of an activity for military and civilian participation than effective defence and protection, yet for a generation they invoke strong memories and associations. Turvey considers the structures to be:
“tools for psychological self-experimentation rather than historical re-creations – spaces that make one very aware of the constraints of one’s body, the borders of the self, and the barriers that we erect. I’m interested in objects as a way of activating social space rather than just something to look at,”
To emphasise the interactivity of the exhibition the work was built on site by local community groups as a place of meeting and action with events, performances and encounters involving musicians, a choir and theatre and prayer groups. The meaning of these claustrophobic, defensive structures is subverted by occupation and use, contrasting their historical sense of conflict with their use as contemporary social space. Activities include drumming, writing groups, council meetings and meditation. The sculptures are shown alongside wartime documentation and memories from Harlow residents, many of whom came to the New Town from London after WWII,
Thematic links include talks by Office of Experiments, whose Overt Research Database is part of an ongoing project to map and record advanced labs and facilities in the UK, and to involve the public in this exploration and revealment; and Subterrannea Britannica who study and investigate man-made and man-used underground places – from mines to railway tunnels, military defences to nuclear bunkers. Accompanying prints expand on these ideas of selfhood, communication and community.
Nick Turvey trained as an architect at Bristol University and the Architectural Association, then studied for an MA at the Royal College of Art in London. Exhibitions include KHOJ, Delhi; Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge; Beukenhof-Phoenix Gallery, Belgium, and The Print Room, London. Public sculptures are installed in London and Harlow. In 2008 he received a bursary from the Royal British Society of Sculptors, and in 2010 the Brian Mercer Award for Stonecarving.
All Alone Together. 20 June – 23 August. Monday to Friday. 9am – 4:45pm. Saturday. 6 and 13 July. 11am – 2pm. Gibberd Gallery, Civic Centre, The Water Gardens, Harlow, Essex CM20 1WG UK