Surreal surprises in store at Burgh House exhibition

Burgh House Jonny Briggs

Burgh House hosts a surreal exhibition by Jonny Briggs which uses photomontages of historic photographs with limbs bursting through. - Credit: Courtesy of the artist

Limbs burst through photographs and an animatronic sock puppet speaks to visitors in a surreal exhibition at Burgh House.

Knots is an "experimental site specific" show by Jonny Briggs that places staged photographs and sculpture all around the Hampstead museum, gallery and garden in a game of hide and seek.

Break In 2020 by Jonny Briggs

Break In 2020 by Jonny Briggs - Credit: Courtesy of the artist

Subtitled 'Contemporary Interventions into an Historic House,' it's hoped that visitors will reconsider familiar objects and reappraise their surroundings as they tour the display, which opens on Wednesday. (Sep 22)

The Marie Louise von Motesiczky Gallery is transformed into a cage-like playpen as Briggs tries to reconstruct his past, reflecting on both his upbringing in a pine forest in rural England, and the historic inhabitants of Burgh House.

Displacement by Jonny Briggs

Displacement by Jonny Briggs - Credit: Courtesy of the artist

Taking its title from former Belsize Park psychiatrist RD Laing's 1970 book of poetry, the exhibition connects with Hampstead's many ties with the history of psychoanalysis. The 36-year-old multi-media artist, who studied Fine Art at Chelsea and the RCA, is known for his idiosyncratic brand of autobiographical work which marries family history and psychoanalysis.


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Briggs says: “My work looks at the constructed reality of the family through the constructed reality of photography. This exhibition attempts to make sense of a time when I was unable to connect with my father, while simultaneously discovering my queer sexuality and the social restrictions this came with. Now, my father has difficulty walking, and is restricted in his movement. The work is an opportunity to give a shape to nonsensical experience, double binds, and seeks to voice experiences once held silent."

The artist sanding a head for the exhibition

The artist sanding a head for the exhibition - Credit: Courtesy of Burgh House

Much of Briggs' work features his parents in imaginative scenarios as he tries, through a series of reconfigurations “to think outside the reality I was born and socialised into."

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He adds: “I like how humour can question societal norms, helicopter above situations, and address difficult themes that may otherwise be too hard to talk about.”

Entrance 2021 by Jonny Briggs

Entrance 2021 by Jonny Briggs - Credit: Courtesy of the artist

One of the works specially created for the exhibition will be added to the Burgh House collection.

Knots: Jonny Briggs x Burgh House runs September 22 until March 6, 2022.

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