Mythical creatures battle it out in giant Toy sculpture at Sunderland art gallery

A model world featuring mythical creatures fighting between the buildings has roared to life at a Sunderland art gallery.

Saturday, 22nd February 2020, 8:00 am
Updated Saturday, 22nd February 2020, 10:58 am
Toy is at NGCA. Photo by Colin Davison.

Chad McCail has spent two years developing the new work, entitled Toy, which has premiered at Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art.

It’s the first time the artist has created a sculpture of this kind for a gallery-scale installation.

The work has been painstakingly created in everyday materials to craft an array of details.

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The models have taken over NGCA

The cityscape contains many of the different types of institutions we encounter in everyday life, such as a school, hospital, workplaces, housing, an airport, abbatoir where food is produced, and military site.

A spokeswoman for the gallery said: “Within this microcosmic world, the whole of human life is here. If this world initially appears like an architectural model, it is far removed from their cheerful, anodyne character. There is rather too much reality here, rather than too little.

“This lovingly realised world has another unexpected difference to our own. Amongst the array of buildings, a battle is being fought between two sets of gigantic mythical creatures. On the one side of this conflict are the colossi of capital – the 1% - who bestride the landscape. They tower over ordinary people.”

The title of the work, the artist explains, is that such people can treat the whole world as if it was their personal plaything – picking up factories lie toys, and moving them from country to country. Their adversaries are aggregations of people brought together to fight back.

The exhibition is running until April

Joining forces with them is a snake that symbolises desire – desire for freedom. In the artist’s piece, the cities we know are transfigured into a mythical space, in which a war is being fought between the many and the few, not only for control of the city, but for the very idea of freedom.

In 2020 a major monograph about the artist’s entire 25-year career will be published by Distanz, Berlin.

:: Toy by Chad McCail is at NGCA, within National Glass Centre, until April 19. Entry to the centre and exhibition is free.

Details of the sculpture
Detail from the exhibition.