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Friday, May 12, 2006


This show of Hand is worth looking at

NO SMOKE, some mirrors but pure magic is how best to describe the work of Marshwood artist Peter Hand, writes All Cameron.

Visitors to his exhibition at his Lamberts Castle studio were astounded and by the display of miniature sets peopled with models, illusions, allusions and imagination.

In a darkened barn these tiny, illuminated stages are populated by the ordinary or mythical, women or hermaphrodites, many being brought to lifelike nudity in the work of a consummate craftsman and artist.

At the same time the sets are revealed and repeated in impossible detail, reality is both unravelled and enhanced before being re-knitted, space is folded and time is paused.

Disturbing psychology skips directly to mythology and the word is made...well, flesh-coloured plaster.

Quite precisely, these artworks are fantastic, these set pieces are unique.

Peter Hand is a model-maker by profession, a gatherer by inclination, a surrealist by choice and a communicator.

He developed his model-making skills in the film industry where he was part of the team that created centuries of Chinese statues and art in a few months for the film Inn of the Sixth Happiness.

So those sumptuous drapes are fibreglass and the tiles or lavish wallpaper are details in paint, a breathtaking deceit of the senses.

UNIQUE EXPERIENCE: Visit Peter Hand's exhibition at Hill Farm House in Marshwood and, if cars are parked solid along Nash Lane, find a space and wait to get in, it's that good.

Sometimes the subjects are derived from the medium and use alternative viewpoints to change the viewer's perception - so to hook you on to the artist's wavelength as well as into a subject familiar from fairy story, legend and folklore.

A new word is needed to describe what Peter Hand sometimes calls his sculptures, sometimes his constructions, but then this is a totally new art form.

At a busy preview with many other local artists present, none had seen anything like it and 'unique' vied with 'awesome' in the visitors' book by the end of the afternoon. As a result it is all but impossible to convey the nature of Mr Hand's art form, which simply has to be seen to be appreciated or understood. For these artifacts, three dimensions are barely enough.

Dorset Art Weeks - May 27 to June 11 - are a perfect excuse to drop in and see what all the fuss is about.

So get to Hill Farm House and, if cars are parked solid along Nash Lane, still park up wherever you can and wait to get in; however long you wait it will still be worth it it's that good. And there is better news. These sets are fearsomely time-expensive - one took from 1966 to 1990 to complete - but some are to go on sale for the well-heeled aficionado.

For those West Dorset residents not parking their Lexus or the Roller in the lane, Mr Hand has developed simpler artworks using the ideas and techniques he has already refined. When completed these will be for sale at prices more familiar to Art Weeks visitors. He will be announcing the news of these later in the summer.

Look up his website, it is about as close to seeing what he does as is possible without telepathy. Or call Peter Hand or Fran Robinson on 01297 678168.