Forget about avian bird flu threatening our shores, the real ornithological mutation is already here, this time home-grown and larger than life. The birds in question are four feet tall and ceramic. Suspended from the outstretched wings of one—a juvenile bluebird—are cheap handbags decorated with shards of broken mirror. A similar bag languishes in the thick white paint which spills across the floor. The plumage of another—a night owl—is completely drenched in day-glo colours.
Nearby, a slightly imperious black parrot is perched high on a mirrored plinth. It appears to be about to peck a gaffer tape Rorschach test fastened to the wall. Light reflects off the dense black gloss paint which not only covers the parrot but congeals on the plinth and collects on the floor, resembling years of pigeon-shit on public statues. Household gloss paint as mutant ceramic bird shit: one in the eye for any latter day expressionist. The last bird—my personal favourite—is ‘The Byrds, (Four Hoops)’, a ceramic budgie with hula-hoops. Both bird, and the interlocking hoops circling the fragment mirrored base, are smothered from head to tail in small cut-out eyes. In effect, the bird is blinded with an accumulation of sight. This ornamental plumage of all-seeing eyes sees nothing (my desire to steal the catalogue for example).
In previous installations, anodyne eyes stare out through webs of gaffer tape. Like the razored eye in Buñuel and Dali’s ‘Un Chien Andalou’ or the fragment of a single cut-out eye in Man Ray’s ‘Object to be Destroyed’, Lambie’s unrelenting accumulation of eyes is disturbing. Here, the eyes and the unexpected scale of the ceramic birds, as if from the hidden dimension of dreams, suggest parallels with the psychological intrigue of Hitchcock. Surrealism isolated the everyday object to reveal a reservoir of anxious psychic energy. Lambie’s aviary of psychedelic ceramic is not so much anxious as anoetic and the kitsch source of these works would suggest that the real context of Lambie’s birds is not so much the suspense of Hitchcock as the superficiality of Jeff Koons.
But we should not forget that Lambie’s title is not The Birds but Byrds, the silhouette of the band being the source for the black vinyl wall piece, ‘The Byrds (Eight Miles High)’. Echoing Lambie’s cut-out record sleeves that snake across vinyl-taped floors of vibrant colour (unfortunately absent in this version of the installation, unlike the Turner Prize version at Tate Britain this winter), the three black silhouettes which unfold upon the walls continue the theme of psychedelic music, mirroring and enlarging. The musical references present in the show make its silent contemplation all the more curious; but as if to compensate, the guitar intro to ‘Eight Miles High’ plays in my head as I leave. Keep it coming Jim. Don’t ever touch down.
Ross Birrell is a Glasgow-based artist