“I had the pleasure of first meeting Lila De Magalhaes, when we both moved to Glasgow in 2004 to study at Glasgow School of Art and am delighted to still be her friend to date. It was this theme of friendship which drew me to a series of particular works, Room mates and Rain Control, both of which have toured throughout Tall Tales, alongside a host of 17 other artists’ work companions.
Room mates consists of two mermaids made out of clay, and resembling Lila and her flat-mate, sit together in a transient state, in a plastic bag filled with water. The mermaids themselves are beautifully detailed but still with a sense of freedom to their clay finish. The mermaid tails are glossy and a rich shade of turquoise you would expect to see at the bottom of the sea, but their bodies and flowing hair remain in their exposed natural clay state. The mixture of finish on the clay, reminds me of the mermaids own hybrid nature, sitting somewhere between human and animal.
Once encased within the large plastic bag of water however, the mermaids become something completely different; an object of curiosity. The audience are invited to take a closer look into this peculiar bulbus bag of water, discovering small details of the sculpture here and there, spotting signs of a fish scaled tail or flowing hair. Having the responsibility of setting the mermaids in place before submerging them within water at each exhibition venue, left me with a close attachment to the mermaids, perhaps recognising the familiarity of my friend, more and more each time I went to install them at a new venue. (Not to mention the rather uncanny international Skype phone calls between myself and Lila consisting of leaking bags, settling mermaids and mermaids resting in Sigmund Freud’s bath alongside myself and assistant Curator Charlie Booth!)
Lila De Magalhaes’s other work Rain Control, which as already mentioned sits alongside an accompanying video work to Room mates, animates these mermaid figures through an everyday yet uncanny scenario – played out by non other than Lila and her flat mate. I had to laugh a little to myself whilst I watched over the video for the last time at our last venue Glasgow Women’s Library. The scene begins with Lila and her flat mate trying to Skype call, curiously pondering what happened to the mermaids, whilst the mermaids seem to be taking themselves for a swim through the car wash. For a moment It reminded me of the various and often humourous phone calls between myself and Lila over the intricacies and absurdities of the clay mermaids install. Somehow I felt like I had become a hidden part of the work, another imaginary mermaid.
All of Lila De Magalhaes’s work searches to perch right on the unsteady cusp between desire and abject, instinct and composure, animal and human. From video, soap, ink, or a performance with a Saint Bernard dog, her practice varies greatly in form but regardless of medium successfully amuses, bemuses and in my own personal case, warms the viewer’s heart.”
Tall Tales Co-Curator