Following Act I at PEER in London in 2016, Jonathan Baldock and Emma Hart bring a dramatically expanded version to Blackpool in the next few weeks in the form of Act II. This involves more than a nod to a certain famous seaside puppet…

In the artists’ most ambitious collaboration to date, Baldock and Hart have radically re-imagined the traditional seaside show of Punch and Judy. Through ceramic sculptures, videos, installations and other works, the artists transform the puppet booth living quarters of the pair into an oversized and darkly humorous place where the ever-present threat of violence acquires a new resonance in an era of cyber-bullying.

In Blackpool, LOVE LIFE fills the Edwardian rooms of the Grundy with a series of new works and displays that draw on the history of popular culture in the town. In one new work, the artists have commissioned the Council’s Illuminations Department to create a giant new sculpture. Alongside this will be a new film and a special display of vintage Punch and Judy puppets on loan from the resort’s extensive collections.

In the largest gallery space, visitors will encounter a set of Punch and Judy ‘interiors’ installed like room sets in an Ideal Home exhibition, including a giant infant with Cyclops head sat in a large pink baby walker, an oven stacked with anthropomorphic pots and pans, and a washing machine spewing out its contents. Nearby, a string of sausages spells out ‘YOUR BACK’ and ceramic speech bubbles hang off the walls, reminiscent of Punch’s aquiline profile. All this is accompanied by the melodramatic strains of Jon and Emma (2016), Baldock and Hart’s collaborative soundtrack.

Hopefully you won’t need to be persuaded by a truncheon or an angry crocodile to have a butchers (‘sausages’ reference…) at this new show. Following the initial launch back in June, the exhibition remains at The Gallery to 12 August.

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