Simon Morse: The Butler’s Cough, Grey Area

In a week artists have rallied round a David Shrigley animation and a petition against cuts to public funding, a show which seems to offer its own discreet protest opened at Grey Area.

The Butler’s Cough by Simon Morse draws polite attention to a series of 12 customised control panels, such as you might find in an otherwise out of bounds area of a hospital, school or office.

In real life these mysterious boxes control heating, lighting, power, etc. Well, that is a guess. The fact is few know exactly what they do and how they operate.

Nevertheless, we understand they form an essential part of the infrastructure and we know they are not to be tampered with. So too with the arts.

Even at the best of times, arts organisations are called upon to justify their expenditure and explain what they do. There is a certain type of person only convinced by economic arguments.

And yet the real work of art is as invisible as these machines. It makes adjustments to settings in our consciousness, and in our hearts and souls, if you want to speak in those terms.

This may be a digression from such witty and suggestive sculptures as the one in the photo above, which like a good butler has coughed and then faded once more into the background.

The Butler’s Cough by Simon Morse is at Grey Area, Brighton, until26 September 2010. Visit the gallery website for opening times and check out the artist’s website for more images.

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