Exhibition dates: 21 May - 10 July
Chad McCail's paintings and prints adapt familiar visual languages to discuss progressive or provocative ideas that seldom enter wider public debate. This exhibition brings together a decade of work by McCail alongside brand new work to plot his creative trajectory since the millennium.
The exhibition also includes McCail's largest work to date, a 100-foot long painted mural that stretches the length of the gallery. 'Compulsory Education' examines the genesis of the three-tier education system that has resulted in comprehensive, grammar and public schools in our own time. McCail's work forwards speculative arguments about the origins of 'compulsory education' for children in the conflicts between the European 'great powers' in the nineteenth century. Is our own education as hierarchical? In 2009, although only "7% of the school age population is privately educated... pupils whose parents have paid for their schooling are four times as likely as state school peers to get a place at one of the top ten universities." 1
McCail's work continues to be an investigation into how society produces - and fails to produce - 'normal' individuals who accept its rules. His work proposes counter-readings of the histories of the institutions that shape all of our lives. Some, like our educational system, is seen here as both a form of social control and of potential liberation. 'Most children learn enough to obey orders, some learn more so they can transmit commands' one work reads. 'A few learn to dictate', it concludes - asking whether an élite charged with wielding power is unavoidable, or even essential.
Images: details from 'Monoculture', 2010, courtesy Laurent Delaye, London.