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MIRROR | The Belief in Things Disappearing

Thursday 5 Oct, 9:00amFriday 15 Dec, 5:00pm
Thursday 5 Oct, 9:00amFriday 15 Dec, 5:00pm
Arts University Plymouth Tavistock Place, Plymouth, PL4 8AT

MIRROR presents The Belief in Things Disappearing, a solo exhibition by artist Jo Lathwood.

Friday 6 October - Friday 15 December 2023
Opening Night: Thursday 5 October, 5pm to 7.30pm

The starting point for this exhibition comes as a self directed challenge, set by the artist to make a show that disappears.

Already deeply concerned with the environmental impact of her practice, this challenge has shaped every aspect of how the work has been made, shown and the idea of its disappearance once the exhibition closes.

Disappearance underpins every aspect of the work presented, explored through two key interconnecting, perhaps seemingly incongruous themes: waste and magic.

We are all engaged in the action of waste disposal, but our understanding of what happens to our rubbish is less commonly known. Our shifting relationship with the status of objects from once personal items to trash are transactions that are sometimes quick and other times difficult. As objects leave our personal domain and are thrown away - they ‘disappear’. Yet the scientific theory of ‘the conservation of mass’ tells us that nothing can really disappear - matter can only transform into different elements, whether they be gas, liquid or a solid. We can create or destroy objects but the resources on the earth are finite.

Traditionally magic held a space between art and science that used to be a much bigger part of our understanding of the world. Magic resides in the realm of the unknown and as technology has advanced there is less space for grey areas, deception or pure belief. We watch as items vanish in the magician’s sleight of hand trick, knowing it for what it is.

This exhibition includes film, time lapse video, drawings and sculpture made in response to Plymouth’s history and cityscape. During an extended period of research, Lathwood visited an Energy from Waste Plant, had meetings with the University's staff driving forward approaches to sustainability; and time spent at The Box‘s archives exploring the history of magic within the city.

Jo Lathwood:

Jo Lathwood’s practice straddles drawing, sculptural works and large installations in both galleries and the public realm.

She applies an interdisciplinary approach to her research which incorporates science, technology, craft and art. Working with recycled timber she has built a meandering staircase that travelled across three storeys to facilitate the audience to touch the roof of a church. Experimenting with foundry technologies, she developed a way of casting lava into contemporary forms and through researching traditional techniques, she has made and shared how to make inks from Oak Galls.

Themes such as transitions, viewpoints, illusions, aspiration, environmentalism and anti-capitalism are woven throughout her practice. Lathwood is acutely aware of our impact on our environment and regularly makes work with and about recycled and waste materials. Since writing an open manifesto in 2019 she aspires to make each artwork within a sustainable system.

Jo Lathwood (1984) studied at University of Brighton where she acquired a First Class Degree in Fine Art Sculpture. She is founding trustee for BRICKs who promote the arts in Bristol and provide affordable studio spaces for artists. She is also on the council for Earth Art Gallery which links artists to academics in the field of Earth Sciences providing space for collaboration at Bristol University.

MIRROR is a public gallery, events programme and online resource based out of and supported by Arts University Plymouth. For upcoming exhibitions and events visit

Opening times:
Monday-Friday: 9am - 5pm
Saturday: 10am - 1pm
Sunday: Closed

Please note, it is free to visit MIRROR. The gallery is closed every Sunday.

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