Imagine your primary school teacher’s orange vinyl chair falling through the air. Your teacher is not on it anymore. The chair has been thrown out of a plane by sky divers and they are filming it. It doesn’t twirl around like a crazy out of control object hurling to its doom. It just falls gracefully upright, like someone could still sit on it. This work, Matthew Greaves’ Untitled (Stuff Jump) at tcb gallery, evokes the fleeting feeling of a fall in a dream. The orange chair in white fluffy clouds and blue sky reminds us of a Rene Magritte painting. Like Magritte’s cloud wallpaper with big toiletries, moon in a tree or train coming out of a chimney, there is a gentle curiosity that makes us ponder the hows and whys of how it came to be there. There is something about the ordinary becoming extraordinary that fills us with hope.
This chair has probably been sat on, without love or comfort, in portable classrooms watching Behind the News or poster presentations on amphibians. Its life as a chair has been practical and no frills and it has done its job and there’s not much more a chair should expect in this life. But this moment, this moment post function and before destruction; this is the terrifying joy of being completely free and useless. We don’t see the destruction of the chair. It fades on down through the clouds. As we anthropomorphise the plain and functional chair, we perhaps find this chair’s end as unimaginable as our own.
It is sometimes hard to remember that the chair is falling. It seems attached to something. An invisible string attached to the plane, or perhaps a ceiling of sorts. Of course we did our poster presentation on the sky and know there is nothing to attach this chair to. No puppeteer or secret string that will pull it up when it gets too close to the ground. So you start to imagine that the chair is not falling at all. It is flying.
The work is a fantasy of escape reminiscent of Enid Blyton. In childhood these adventures of flying chairs give the child an opportunity for vicarious heroic adventures. The primary school teacher’s chair’s escape divulges the secret desires of adults to escape on heroic adventures too. Though as adults, flying may seem too much like falling to risk it. This flying chair, with its life before and its life after this moment alluded to by its nature and circumstance, is a celestial salute to the present - with all its fear and beauty.
On at tcb gallery until 25th of June