Wanderlust Hotel – Pam Glew
Check into the Wanderlust Hotel where the private lives of guests and workers are exposed in a series of bleach and dye textile artworks by British artist Pam Glew.
I first came across Pam Glew’s art six years ago at the exhibition of her ‘Beautiful and Damned’ collection and became an instant fan. I was naturally very excited to find that she was exhibiting in London again and was lucky enough to view her latest collection ‘The Wanderlust Hotel’ on the last day of the exhibition at London’s Woolff Gallery.
The fictitious guest house and its illicit guests are the theme of Glew’s latest collection. Hotels play host to a whole manner of people whether they be guests or staff; but what are there individual stories? People have different agendas, motives and driving forces; so what brings these different paths to cross one another at the hotel. The personal stories of the girlfriend for hire, the barman, bellboy, maids and VIP guests are scrutinised and laid bare.
Prose accompany several of the pieces which serve to provide a further insight into the different characters and their personal stories. Central to the ‘The Wanderlust Hotel’ is the exploration of the role that fate and luck play in our lives; which is particularly apparent in the piece ‘Sisters.’
A vintage quilt adorned with Swarovski crystals presents the bleached and dyed image of two females facing each other in profile; one with a crown upon her head, the other with a maids hat. It becomes apparent from the accompanying text that the depicted women are in fact ‘Sisters’. Once close, a falling out over a love affair ended the relationship, with lover and sibling. The way they are portrayed, with a crown and maids hat, represents how different their lives have turned out; one sister is a VIP guest whilst the other changes the sheets.
Told from the perspective of the VIP guest, she moved on after the betrayal and worked at building a career in the entertainment industry. Having cut her sister out of her life, their paths cross at ‘The Wanderlust Hotel’ where her estranged sister works as a maid and she is a guest whilst she stars in a West End play.
The gap between them not only represents an icy reunion and the rift between them, but also the separation of their positions in life; they are siblings who are poles apart. There is also a sense of karma and ‘just desserts’ in the artwork; the betrayed sister achieves fame and success whilst the other now serves her, if only for a couple of nights. The last sentence of her tale is ambiguous ‘I wonder if maybe it’s her’; does she recognise the maid that she encounters at the hotel as her sister, or does she think she may be the one stealing her lipstick?
A more seedy side to the low rent guest house comes to the fore through the stories of the barman and call girls. In ‘Love’ and in ‘Barman’ the two characters have the same schedule in that they are opposite to the everyday person. Their working hours are most peoples sleeping hours, they sleep just as office workers are getting up to start a working day. They are nocturnal and provide an outlet for their clients. The barman, like the call girl, give their clients what they want by ‘quenching their thirst’ and ‘sugar coating’ their bad day.
The call girl and the barman have a connection and a shared sense of familiarity and anonymity. How many people spill details of their lives and neurosis to the barman serving them drinks; feel as though they know them yet do not even know their name? Similarly with the call girl, known as ‘Love’ she is stripped of her identity just as her interactions with clients are devoid of emotion. She speaks of her love as ‘disposable’ and a ‘short lived thrill‘, she may ‘sugar coat’ her clients bad days, but she makes no effort to do the same for the seedy truth of their encounters.
These two characters relate to one another and develop their own ritual, cocktails and lollies at the end of the shift as the sun comes up. They sleep whilst the world is awake, waiting for nightfall when it’s time to go to work.
Pam Glew’s solo exhibition ‘The Wanderlust Hotel’ was three years in the making, but it was certainly worth the wait. The collection not only is a fantastic exhibition of Glew’s exquisite technique but it has a deeper side to it; encouraging the spectator to read into the characters and visitors of the hotel; to imagine and piece together their stories and how they are connected to one another.
Click here to view the Teacup Moment post on Pam Glew’s ‘Beautiful and Damned’ exhibition.
Next Sunday on Teacup Moment: The National Portrait Gallery ‘Vogue 100’ exhibition review.