Artist’s Impression: Mangled Metal at the Peltz Gallery

In a timely exhibition, representations of the terrorist as inhumane insurgents will be explored in a new exhibition at the Peltz Gallery at Birkbeck School of Arts from the 4th of July till the 14th of August 2015.

BowArtsLogoSmallFounded in 2013, Peltz Gallery’s artist-in-residence programme collaborates with Bow Arts to bring you Artist’s Impression: Mangled Metal. Artist John Timberlake (Bow Arts), and Dr Gabriel Koureas, senior lecturer in the Department of History of Art at Birkbeck, have joined forces to devise the exhibition, which reflects on the use of mangled metal as an exhibitionary strategy by museums of war in representations of Britain’s small wars from 1945 to the present day’s War on Terror. The exhibition explores German philosopher Walter Benjamin’s notion of art-objects as simultaneously “fragments of culture and fragments of barbarism”.

From exploring the transformation in the life of metal from material object (car, plane, building etc.) to photographic index, relic, drawing, paper object, and finally to installation, prepare for a truly memorable and fascinating experience as the gallery space will be transformed into a reliquary.

With sculptural fragments reimagined as objects of veneration, as well as pieces laid out on the floor, the installation aims to echo the forensic display and assembling of evidence, while simultaneously drawing on the act of painting in the context of staging, model making, sculpture and installation.

“Echoing the ostraka – broken fragments of ancient pottery – of Ancient Greece”, Timberlake explains, “the installation will avoid the prioritisation of figure/ground relations and instead construct a field of unique but equal elements, thus challenging established hierarchies of conflict and complicating such simplistic concepts as  ‘justifiable political act’ versus ‘the atrocity.”

The Peltz Gallery’s artist in residence programme connects artists with academics merging new talent with established creatives. Each project is inspired by interdisciplinary research produced within Birkbeck’s School of the Arts, and the residency aims to explore how artistic engagement with academic research might simultaneously develop reflective arts practices and advance academic thinking.

“The specimen of mangled metal, the fragment of wreckage, frequently becomes an exhibitionary trope”, says Dr Gabriel Koureas. “Establishing the inhumanity of the insurgent in contrast to the artefacts such as tanks, artillery, rifles or aircraft that are often chosen to represent humane and heroic wars.

The dialogue that takes place between the shining, smooth surfaces of the machinery of war and the rough surfaces of mangled metal is one between justifiable and unjustifiable war, good and evil, heroes and villains.”

The events programme surrounding the exhibition also includes:

3 July: Remembering Small Wars: roundtable with veterans, artists and curators. Rm G01, 43 Gordon Square, 3.30pm – 5.30pm / Private View, 6pm – 8.30pm


  • Alan Wakefield, Head of photographs section, Imperial War Museum London
  • Rebecca Newell, Public Information and Outreach Curator, National Army Museum
  • Peter Cosgrove, Veteran of Afghanistan War
  • John Timberlake, Artist in Residence, Peltz Gallery, Birkbeck
  • Chaired by Dr. Gabriel  Koureas, Senior Lecturer, Department of History of Art, Birkbeck

7 July: Commemorating 7/7: artists, architects and academics in conversation. Birkbeck Cinema, 6pm – 8pm


  • Philip Nelson, Chair of the Tavistock Square 7/7Memorial Trust
  • John Timberlake, Artist in Residence, Peltz Gallery, Birkbeck
  • Dr. Gabriel  Koureas, Senior Lecturer, Department of History of Art, Birkbeck
  • Chaired by Prof. Annie E. Coombes, Director Peltz Gallery, Birkbeck

8 July: John Timberlake and Gabriel Koureas in conversation at Bow Arts, Nunnery Gallery, 181 Bow Road, London, E3 2SJ, 6pm-8pm. Chaired by Elizabeth Murton, Artist, Bow Arts 

Artist’s Impression: Mangled Metal,

Peltz Gallery, 43 Gordon Square

 July 4 to August 14. Mondays to Fridays, 10am-8pm, and Saturdays, 10am-5pm

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