Artthrob, October 2003
Alan Alborough at the Sasol Art Museum
By Paul Edmunds
Four months after its opening and one month before its now extended conclusion, I visited Alan Alborough's 'Work(in/ ing) Pro(gress/ cess)' at the Sasol Art Museum. Things have progressed, but the yawning hole in the first floor has not been filled with French knitting as it begged to be when I first saw the show. To be honest, there is a small fringe of knitting (in white and blue cotton thread) but it's nowhere near the size of the long tube I imagined snaking its way to the ground out the door and down the gallery's stairs.
And the space below the gallery's circular opening is filled up, but not with knitting. Instead Alborough has arranged and piled up various materials, containers and other items peripherally involved with the French knitting project. In fact, apart from the brilliant chemical blues of the objects, I reckon many of them are pretty much unrelated to the project we all imagined Alborough to have undertaken.
Neatly tied off stuffed plastic bags, bottles, boxes and bales of thread sit arranged uncertain of whether they are byproducts or raw materials. The spindle-like objects Alborough originally fastened to the balustrade above, around which he apparently intended to wind the thread for his giant knitted tube, have themselves become further adorned.
Far from the economy and efficiency one expects from a weaving process, these are now elaborately decorated. Complex constructions of cable ties, shower curtain hooks, baubles and those plastic bags create detailed crenellations on the circumference. From the knitting itself hang small cerulean blue bottles, apparently creating tension in the fabric Alborough is probably never going to make.
All I can conclude is that Alborough has successfully created a yawning chasm between what I expected him to do and what he has done. Despite the precision of his execution, I'm not sure that his plans and their results aren't similarly misregistered.