Kira Freije‘s maudlin metal mannequins make ready for an imminent meteor strike, awaiting that world-ending event, an approaching apocalypse. Barefoot figures cower, slump in surrender or sport pious poses, praying to an omnipotent higher power for salvation, to be spared during the impending judgement day. Their fearful faces and limbs cast in aluminium recall that perfectly preserved plaster-cast populous of Pompeii, forever frozen in their final moments at the foot of Mount Vesuvius. One couple stands in a comforting embrace, awaiting and accepting their fate as they look out over the pub garden below, surveying their surroundings’ closing scenes. Their primitive garments, complementary coloured and with conventional cuts, resemble both Kazimir Malevich’s Suprematist silhouettes and religious disciple-esque drapery.
Almost as if anticipating the world being plunged into darkness, lamps and light fittings litter The approach‘s first-floor gallery space. Serving as beacons of bulbous blown glass that attempt to escape from their caged confines, some concertina into corners while others hang from the ceiling on chain-link leashes that echo childhood paper chains. Evoking old-fashioned oil or paraffin lanterns, stainless steel scraps and upcycled glass bottles take on functional, survivalist forms.
Post-graduation from The University of Oxford’s Ruskin School of Art and pre-completion of her Postgraduate Diploma at the Royal Academy Schools, Freije apprenticed alongside local Sussex blacksmiths, amassing an array of metalwork skills that are evidenced throughout her sculptures. Salvaged steel is welded or cold-formed to create compositions that evoke Scrapheap Challenge contraptions or Mad Max’s dystopian automobiles. An odd human-lampshade hybrid wobbles wistfully as you walk past, its torso replaced by a coiled spring that supports an oversized visor, perfectly prepared to protect against any falling fragments.
At one end of the gallery space, a single anthropomorphic asteroid watches over the staged display - complete with one figure floating mid-air akin to a suspended dinosaur skeleton at the Natural History Museum or a decommissioned aircraft at an aerospace institution - its cherubic cheeks disguising an otherwise ominous, prescient premonition.