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Tuesday, 23 September 2014

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Why being an art exhibit is a dog’s life

IN THE FRAME:  Kennel owner Jeremy Latimer watches the film with Holly

By Alice Ross

THE secret world of dogs is exposed in a new exhibition at an Armathwaite kennels.

Turner Prize nominee Simon Patterson has set up a video link which turns Lowood kennels into a ground-breaking portrayal of the dog in art.

The 37-year-old British artist, who has exhibited at the controversial Sensation show alongside Tracey Emin and Damien Hirst, brings out the unseen personalities of dogs by allowing spectators at the Lowood art gallery to watch animals alone in the next-door kennels.

Visitors can see four dogs on the split-screen CCTV monitor which hangs next to long-exposure photographs of other dogs in the gallery.

Mr Patterson, of London, said: “I really wanted to make a work that was specifically about the kennels. The still pictures are on very long exposure so they’re quite blurred. They remove the obvious personality of the dog. What it brings out depends, from dog to dog.

“It’s like Big Brother. Some just sleep, some start humping the furniture, some drink their water. People are strangely transfixed by it.

“It’s like a documentation of an event that happened here.

“People can say: ‘I came to see it live.’ There’s an audio link to the kennels, so you can hear dogs barking or people telling them to be quiet.”

Canine art historian Nick Waters, who opened the exhibition, praised its originality.

He said: “I thought it certainly was breaking new ground. I think it’s probably unique that an installation has been centred on the dog.

“My immediate reaction when entering the exhibition was one of sadness. You have the wire of the kennels separating you from the dogs.

“But then you start understanding – they weren’t sad dogs. Some look as if they were contemplating life or expecting something for the future. It was a very interesting concept.”

The idea stemmed from Mr Patterson’s friendship with gallery and kennel owner Jeremy Latimer. The two have previously collaborated on an exhibition on Tullie House.

The exhibition is called “Domini Canes” – Latin for “Hounds of God”. It is loosely based on a painting by 16th-century artist Fra Angelico, which depicts the cells of an Italian monastery whose monks were responsible for rooting out heresy, earning their nickname of hounds.

Mr Waters added: “It was an interesting comparison with Fra Angelico’s painting. There’s this connection with dogs at that sort of time. They were used to portray human feeling and understanding.

“The exhibition made one think about the relationship between man and dog. And about why man and dog have stayed together when man and other things have gone their separate ways.”

The exhibition is showing until June 5 and it will then tour. For more information call 01768 896636.

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