Perseus and Medusa, Peter Groves.


A painting by St Leonards-based artist Peter Groves, Perseus and Medusa, was removed from his recent exhibition, Pandora’s Box and Other Stories at the Isabel Blackman Centre and placed in a separate room. Two weeks later, it was reinstated after “further consideration”.


Perseus and Medusa painting and box, Peter Groves. Photo Miranda Gavin


The painting was removed following a complaint at the opening of the show over concerns that it would cause offense to centre users after a soldier was killed in Woolwich last month. The painting showed an Action Man figure dressed in combat gear holding a sickle over a decapitated Medusa and was based on one of Groves’ cardboard box constructions. The incident was reported in the local press Medusa painting creates controversy at art show (10 June).


Cerberus, Charon and Ghosts box from the series Pandora’s Box and Other Stories, Peter Groves. Photo Miranda Gavin


Richard Makin writes of the work: “Peter Groves’ painted boxes offer glimpses of miniaturized drama, the expressionist doll’s house—3-D storyboards for tactfully deranged film-sets. These DIY theatres are staging-posts for the Greek myths, their compacted space haunted by plastic toys, ornaments, found objects, models, tin lids and mirrors, feathers, twigs and seashells, waves of blue polyethylene, chewed cardboard and pipe-cleaners, leaves, shavings of doormat—carefully composed worlds of wire and string. The disparate elements in his constructions are provided by whatever materials make themselves available, inevitably culled from chance on trawls through local charity pits. These bricolaged vignettes are works in themselves, but also serve as the subjects for drawings and gouache paintings after the ancient stories.”


(top) Pandora’s Box and Other Stories exhibition view; (bottom) Hades and the Underworld painting (detail), Peter Groves. Photos Miranda Gavin; (middle) Pandora’s Box painting, Peter Groves.


Frame and Reference visited the show just before it finished and got some responses to the work for a Public View:


Miranda (chef):
“My first impressions, I wasn’t too sure about the work. I tweaked what they all meant when I saw them, but it was completely different for me and I couldn’t work out exactly what was going on. But, after reading the text he’d written, it all made sense and came together. I think it’s lovely. It’s a shame more artists don’t explain a little about the meaning behind their work. I know the Greek myths and I knew the story of Perseus. My favourite is Persephone and the Underworld; I love it, it’s a really nice piece.”


From the comments book:
“The boxes themselves are comments on modern life. Aphrodite, welcome to Marks & Spencer. Golden curtains are beautifully painted.”
“A very unusual idea, I love the idea of cardboard boxes and then painting pictures of them. Mini worlds.”
“Very professionally displayed. Great work – shame one picture coincided with a violent incident and had to be removed. Client’s comment at open view.
“Client thought you should have smarter boxes for models – One client would like to buy a box with dolls etc.”


Peter Groves exhibition, Pandora’s Box and Other Stories. Photos Miranda Gavi.