Graduate Residency update, Airspace Gallery / by Naomi Harwin

In the window

As part of the Graduate Residency Alice and myself had the opportunity to put together an interim exhibition in Airspace’s window space.  This allowing us to pilot some initial ideas and works, while also letting the people of Stoke-On-Trent know what kind of work the graduate residents are making.  Giving a taster of what is to come from our solo exhibitions.

We had one day set aside to install the work.   As part of the process we had already written proposals for the show, so we had a good idea of how the work would look and be placed within the window.  But of course these things can always change when the work is physical in the space.

Working with the confines of the window, Alice, Glen and myself installed the work in stages, bringing in our most prominent pieces first to gage the initial positioning.  For my work this meant bringing in the painted boards.  Once these were in place I could play with the set up of the painting and print to ensure an engaging dialogue amongst the works.  Throughout the install we continued to consider how our pieces worked alongside each other, to ensure that the entire window was balanced.

Although the install took most of the day the process was much quicker than I had expected.  I am used to trying our numerous arrangements and positions until I have found the one that works best with the space.  Currently my practice works in collections of pieces that form a dialogue about an object and so the engagement between the works is an important part to be considered during the set up.  However, this time perhaps due to the limits of the space or the feedback and dialogue with Alice and Glen, I didn’t have to try out lots of arrangements.  First the boards were positioned; this determined the paintings location, which in turn decided where the print would sit; each step determining the next action.

It was great to work through a process that didn’t feel familiar, allowing new methods into my practice.

Events and activities 

As well as putting together the window show, over the last few weeks there have been some fantastic openings and events.

Artist and the City

Artist and the City had it opening event. The collaborative exhibition between Airspace Gallery and the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery aimed to explore the situation for artist in Stoke-On-Trent, it’s past and present.  The exhibitions starting point focused on the work of four artists, George Cartlidge, John Currie, Grete Marks and Terry Shave and their close connection to the area.  Four contemporary artists with connections to Stoke-On-Trent were then paired with one of the initial artists from Stoke’s ‘history’ and commissioned to respond with new artworks.  On display alongside the selected works from the Museum’s collection these new artwork were marriage well with those of the older artists.  At times it wasn’t immediately obvious that some works were two separate artists from two different times.

The exhibition then continued at Airspace Gallery where the four contemporary artists created works that imagined what the city might look like in the future.  The ‘Artcity’ a site for artistic endeavors, where artist can live, work and prosper.  These artists included David Bethell, Adam James, Carla Wright and Sophie Bard. The show continues till 13th December 2014.

KULES Ex-factory

As part of a newly commissioned residency programme ‘KULES’, for the past few months five artist have been living, working and teaching in the area while in residence in a disused 3000 square metre site, an old Olympus Engineering building on college road.  At the being of November was the opening event of their exhibition.  The works took advantage of the space of the building and utilized the many rooms of varying sizes and aesthetic.   When entering the building the first work you were immersed in was Leslie Deere’s Laserdome sound piece on the ground floor.  The space dark and filled with pillars and fluctuating sound, I found myself absorbed in the environment.  It felt as though time had slowed and I was able to move through the space.  I could spend a lot of time with this piece.  Towards the end of the space in an area out of the dark were works by Shaun Doyle and Mally Mallinson.

Moving upstairs, within the large space were a selection of works by Doyle and Mallinson, Chloe Cooper, and the two micro residency artists Sarah Thorley and Corey Whyte.  Chloe’s works seen within the space acts as props for her video narrative.  These props positioned throughout the building allow the viewer to engage and connect with the space and the story that unravels in her video work.  Exploring the rooms to follow you find the work of Leigh Clarke, a series of hanging screenprints on book blinding paper, a selection of paintings and a number of the original busts.  The work using images of a defaced mass manufacture chalkware Syrian bust.

The works were exciting and engaging and demonstrated what can be done with disused building such as Olympus.  The event included music by a live band as well as a performance by Leigh Clarke.  The event then continued at Airspace gallery.

Hush Hush

I also recently attended one of B-arts Hush Hush cinema events with the appetite volunteers.  We were invited to dress up as either punk or disco and found ourselves in different scenarios, in one room was an audition for a punk band in another was a disco dancing class, another was bingo for the elderly and the last was a telekinesis meeting, each giving a clue to the film.  We were immersed in the scenarios and after a number of situations played out we were then invited to take out seats for the film.  As it played out we could see where our clue had come from.  The film was ‘Whatever happened to Harold Smith’, great film and a dynamic event.

Problem solving

As I begin to consider my solo exhibition I have been looking into different ways of funding the production of work.  I have learnt a lot from researching into the different forms of funding and the time it take to organize. Some of these things would have more helpful at the start of the residency, allowing sufficient time, but I am learning from these mistakes and observations, which will help me in future projects.

But, I have got some exciting ideas for works, it is just a matter of finding the time and funds to make as much of the work as I can.  I hope to make my solo show a fantastic exhibition.

To see the developments of my studio work head to my tumblr blog at :

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