Sheena Colquhoun: Should I try it harder?
SEVENTH Gallery Workers Window
12 February – 9 March 2014

Sheena Colquhoun’s work offers a tongue-in-cheek ode to the popular culture that she loves and grew up with, while simultaneously acknowledging its often-problematic nature.

Sheena’s work is situated within an aesthetic that she terms ‘undemanding’. While not a deliberate critique of other forms of artistic approach, Sheena finds that she is continually drawn to forms that lend themselves to such a reading. A collective familiarity with the material Sheena uses renders her work approachable and accessible, lending it a sense of immediacy that draws the viewer in. Acknowledging the potential for the term ‘undemanding’ to invoke negative connotations, Sheena sees it rather as having a constructive potential for a broad, democratic understanding and appreciation.

Pop culture references abound within and form the basis of Sheena’s work. Borrowing snippets from reality TV, stills from Hollywood movies, lyrics from pop songs and common sayings, Sheena draws out connections and parallels, which may otherwise be overlooked. 

Should I try it harder? (a line taken from Kasey Chamber’s pop hit  ‘Not pretty enough’) straddles the line between humour and sincerity, offering insightful yet light-hearted observations about society and the contemporary condition. 

A t-shirt, brandishing the label ‘INSECURITY GUARD’, hangs worn and creased in the window of The Workers Club. The play on words provides the instant punch line. But after the initial joke is processed, we can begin to read more complex layers in the work.

The title of the work hints at the tendency for self-deprecation present in much contemporary art, while also alluding to the current trend of public sadness. The positioning, directly next to where the paid security guards stand at the entrance, offers a clever juxtaposition. Deflated and body-less, the flaccid t-shirt is uninspiring, lacking spectacle and guarding very little. In contrast to the confidence assured by the bold lettering and its associations with the macho strength of security guards, the statement betrays an insecurity and uncertainty that exists ever-present in our society.

– Laura Couttie, 2014


Image courtesy Sheena Colquhoun, 2014