image by Zongxui Xie

Touchy No Touchy is a unique and quirky exhibition in the heart of Finsbury Park by Wimbledon College Of Arts 2nd year sculpture students. I was lucky enough to go at a time where the spirits were high, and Arsenal fans were ablaze, smoke flares going off in the distance, chanting songs with one hand in the air and another holding a beer out on a warm sunny day. With my shades on and my mood elated, I step into the Light Eye Mind and find myself in a cosy exhibition with sculptures that are exactly what they say on the tin, Touchy No Touchy ! Finding a catalog of all the pieces, there displayed are pieces which are interactive and those which are not. Interactive pieces are hard things to come by in art exhibitions, and is not only enjoyable to the touch, but allows the viewer an intimate moment between themselves and the piece. It puts the viewer in a position where their childlike curiosity grows. However, this is not to disregard the ‘no-touchy’s’ as their work was equally spectacular and gave you a curiosity in the sense that they were untouchable and out of reach.

caption: picture by me, fabric mice by Karen Flecknell

The pieces were vastly different and quite inviting to the eye in different ways, there were little fabric mice, bricks with ceramic organic looking ‘growing’ out of them, playful pumpkin toys, experimental pinhole camera photography, real-life-science-fiction fishman, and fluffy balls you can put to your face, a big lotion, and a bag of sand – all very different aesthetics, fitting in this one playful equation. There are three students presenting work at this exhibition: Karen Flecknell, Yuen-ying Lam, and Zongxiu Xie.

I had a talk with one of the artists, Yuen-Ying Lam, creator of the of the more standout pieces of the exhibition. She made three very contrasting colourful sculpture pieces. Her pieces are a lot to do with bringing love to the viewer as well as comfort. One of these is a blue box filled with fluffy balls called My balls are friendly, kind and non-judgemental (which is inscribed on the box).

“If they touch it they can maybe feel comfort from it, if they’re stressed or I don’t know they’re just nice balls, they can be friends !”

picture by me, of My Fluffy Balls Are Friendly Kind And Non-Judgemental artwork by Yuen-ying Lam

Fur was chosen so she could “retain a living side to them”. Through texture she tried to communicate emotions between people. “I originally wanted to make a ball pit, but since it would be difficult so I made a box and the balls and instead would be concentrated for the hand or face which are sensitive. I used the smoothest fur I could find.”

The second, to my surprise, was not toothpaste, “the second piece was inspired by facial cleansing cream that I use. You put on face cream on everyday and it’s very intimate – the tube holds something important but it itself not important. People don’t really give value to them. Once you use it the tube just gets thrown away, and it seemed kind of sad to me. I feel like that’s real life, some people will use you for something and when they get what they want they abandon you.”

“I made it a sculpture for people to hug because I think hugging is nice gesture for people to feel better when they’re distressed.”

According to Yuen-Ying Lam, the sand is a projection of what she wants to be. “I want to feel that I’m good enough and brave but I really have low self esteem…but maybe there’s people out there that feel the same as me and if I can give some encouragement through my work then I would be very happy”. The sand is childrens sand from Argos so there’s a child play element rather than sand from DIY shop. Its softness and red colour were intentional “when you touch the red sand it will stain on your hand slightly so it’s like you can really get some of the self worth instead. You can wash it off but you can get something out of it. I want it to give you the reassurance that good enough and of worth and deserve love.”

Image by me , My Sands Know They Are Great, Beautiful and Dererve Love by Yuen-ying Lam

At the venue there’s a zine she made about “randomness of the world” about a pack of crisps she got from Marks and Spencers. There are also postcard of the experimental photography there taken by Zongxiu Xie.

Better get there quick ! Exhibition ends 6th of April.

Light Eye Mind gallery
Wimbledon College students
Yuen-ying Lam’s website : http://yuenyinglam.co.uk/