Making brilliant visual puns, Friel’s work realises British eccentricities and idioms into playful artworks that challenge many long-held beliefs. Yes, she says – you can have your cake and eat it.
Her first solo show at London’s Conigsby Gallery, Waiting Game, takes these ideas – as well as her observations on this country’s ingrained habits in circumstances such as queues and waiting rooms – and uses them to form brilliant paper machines and graphics.
‘I like looking at the idea of all the strange things we take for granted but are really quite strange’, explains Friel. ‘I was speaking to an Australian friend and said something about “taking the biscuit”. Of course, she didn’t know what I meant.’
Surreal, hilarious and cute, her work casts an askew glance at the strange human behaviours that underpin a particularly British brand of bizarreness.
‘Things like etiquette on buses is a lot more concentrated in London, I think’, says Friel.
‘People get quite militant about things like standing on the right on escalators: they get very annoyed when people don’t know the rules but don’t explain them. You’re just expected to know.’
As well as six of Friel’s machines, a number of posters and prints will also be on display, including this helpful guide to negotiating matters of life and death:
Waiting Game runs until 14 June at Coningsby Gallery, 30 Tottenham Street, London, W1T