Public Previews - PMAG 3rd October, 6pm-8pm | AirSpace - 31st October, 7pm-9pm
A Two-Part collaborative group exhibition at AirSpace Gallery and The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Stoke-on- Trent, curated by Jean Milton and Anna Francis.
Between 2014 and 2019 a consortium of art groups, led by B Arts, will be working together to re-imagine Stoke- on-Trent as an ‘Artcity’.
is a five-year, artist-led programme that aims to:
• Improve the quality of place and life in the city for those who live here
• Create a new story for the city - modelling new ideas for the city’s future.
• Make it easier for artists to access spaces in the city, to make things happen.
The project in particular, sets out Stoke- on-Trent as a place for art and artists to thrive. This two part, two-venue exhibition examines the situation for artists in Stoke-on-Trent, past and present, and examines the efficacy and viability of the notions and themes surrounding Artcity.
The Artist and the City
The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery
4th October, 2014 - 22nd February. 2015
George Cartlidge, John Currie, Grete Marks, Terry Shave , Potteries Museum and Art Gallery
At The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, this timely exhibition aims to set the context of Artcity, demonstrating that artists have lived and worked in Stoke-on-Trent for hundreds of years, and setting out the particular experience of ‘The Artist and The City’ through an examination of the works of 4 well known artists, originally living or working in Stoke-on-Trent - George Cartlidge
, John Currie
, Grete Marks
and Terry Shave
- artists with strong connections to the city, who are well represented within the Museum’s collection, and whose work is also identified as being world class.
For these, and other important artists, Stoke- on-Trent has been close to their hearts, but has also been a place where it has been tough to survive; with many artists being forced to move to other cities to seek their fortunes. Artcity seeks to change this, setting out Stoke-on-Trent as a destination for artists from elsewhere, as well as a place for artists from here to remain, and to thrive. This exhibition aims to showcase some beautiful, important works from the Museum’s collection, revealing the history of these artists, their fascinating lives and connections to the city, while also providing an opportunity for the next generation of artists to explore the artists and their works, and what it means to be an artist living or working in the city of Stoke-on-Trent.
David Bethell, Adam James, Carla Wright, Sophie Bard , Potteries Museum and Art Gallery
The curators have selected one work from each of these artists, to become the starting point for a new commission for 4 contemporary artists - David Bethell, Adam James
, Carla Wright
and Sophie Bard
- with connections to the city of Stoke- on-Trent today and a perceived crossover or affinity with the works from the collection. These newly commissioned, responsive artworks are displayed alongside the artworks from the museum collection within the temporary exhibition space at PMAG.
The Artist and the City
31st October - 13th December, 2014
Through a series of exciting new commissions, AirSpace Gallery
presents a group exhibition, which seeks to propose and imagine what a future Artcity may look like - exploring the city as a viable site for artistic endeavour, but also as a place where artists can live, work and prosper. AirSpace Gallery has worked with David Bethell, Adam James
, Carla Wright
and Sophie Bard
to put together a series of exciting and dynamic installations, artworks and activities which imagine a future art city; how it looks, smells, feels and what takes place there.
Wild and Romantic
(2014) Multi media installation, film, performance, sculpture, film (8 minutes)
Bethell’s work takes the form of an installation incorporating film, assemblage and sculptures, and made up of old Gallery office stationery, a reference and homage to AirSpace Gallery and Bethell’s time there. The office space is manipulated and challenged by the artist and explores his need to escape the city and break free from the administrative duties of an artist. The office space is organised into two parts; one a natural environment and the other a normal office work space. The office space transforms into a survival shelter and explores the use of bush craft to survive in the wild; a reference to Bethell’s own desire to escape to the countryside, but also a reference to techniques that could be employed by future artists to survive as an artist in the city, in both a natural and urban environment. A wooden shelter is created from an office desk, found branches and everyday office stationery such as pens, office paper, tape, paper clips, and string etc. The transformation takes place over 24 hours in the gallery, during both the open and closed times of the gallery space. The work also looks at sets and stages and the play between the real and the fictional, the imaginable and the desired set against the actual, achieved by panning from the two separate spaces that have undergone the transformation. Switching between two spaces highlights the change in the fabricated environments, but also brings into focus the function of the objects that have been used within the transformation. This aims to question the original purpose and function of the objects and the human need for change.
David Bethell is a UK artist based in Leek, Staffordshire Moorlands. Bethell’s work is inspired by landscape and the natural environment, often looking at the contrasts and conflicts of human influences on landscape. His work also looks into our aspirations, desires, and our failure to achieve these unattainable dreams.
The Checkerboard Crew
(2014) Video (10 minutes)
Pervasive Larps, are a type of game in which the world and all its inhabitants are treated as unwitting players and stages for roaming immersive storytelling. The film presented in this show, is the documentation of an immersive Larp called ‘The Checkerboard Crew’ played in an enclosed brownfield area of Stoke. Originally conceived as a Larp game to be run in a hip area of East London, it has subsequently taken on a life of its own, having been replayed across Europe. With each new iteration maintaining the core rules and concepts, the characters and fiction are adapted to suit the location. Here, participants seek to imagine what a future city may look like; exploring the city’s unlocked potential through the artistic endeavours of a group of strange silent travellers with the gift of foresight. The night vision footage depicts players using a variety of improvisational techniques to explore Stoke by Night in a quest to reimagine underused, dormant and derelict spaces. Working collectively, players used characters created in intensive workshops to reinterpret the world around them. Players were tasked with leaving behind marks, physical or embodied, which might serve as beacons to a brighter future. In order to refrain from overly analytical approaches to the task, play was conducted almost entirely in silence.
The two most important rules of the game were:
1) To transform the quality of ‘the thing’. 2) A collective consensus must always be reached.
London artist, Adam James’ practice, working across film and performance, has developed from an on-going interest into ‘outsiderness’, specifically the social and cultural characteristics of outsiders, concentratin on an exploration into the use of role-play (specifically Live Action Role Play or Larping), improvisation and game mechanics as a means to generate choreographic content, with the aim to better understand personal, social and cultural constructs.
Plan for Playground
(2014) Installation, scaffold netting, paint, scaffolding.
‘unmake’ bits of no-man’s land
‘ (2014) Video
For Carla Wright an ArtCity is a city where artists have freedom to, and are encouraged to adapt, manipulate and build their physical environment. Interested in the potential of empty and disused open spaces and buildings, she believes that artists could play a vital role in activating these spaces and creating an impact in the city. The work here aims to explore the existence of urban ‘play space’ and the idea of a designated fenced off area for children, usually outside of the city centre, something which Wright believes should be continuously challenged by artists and designers. The work is suggestive of a plan or blue print of a future playground but at its simplest state, where the material or shape are provided but the children become the makers, the architects. The work references defiant acts of graffiti and vandalism but not with an urgency so evident in graffiti styles, but with a certain slowness where the artist has been given time, space and freedom to produce. Alongside the scaffolding piece, the video ‘unmake’ bits of no-man’s land ‘ will be shown depicting a brownfield site near to the gallery which the artist visited the first time she was in Stoke- on-Trent. The site is viewed through blue netting blowing in the wind, and the film is framed within a geometric shape when projected, acting as an example of one the potential play spaces, mentioned earlier.
Carla Wright is an artist living and working in London. Her work examines the built and social environment – planned societies and governed life, and the bureaucracies of urban planning processes, which pay little regard to a our needs and aspirations. Ideas are drawn from unfinished building sites, urban wastelands and unofficial play-spaces, along with examples of alternative housing, self-governed communities and anarchist architecture.
Lost in Stoke
(2014) Illustrations, laser cut panels, acrylic, vinyl
At the start of the project Bard visited areas of Stoke that were unfamiliar to her with the view to becoming lost in order to trigger a natural response. Originally from the city, Bard has lived elsewhere for some time, so the once familiar could be said to be becoming distant, something which the artist has drawn on here. The work consists of abstract visualisations of how the city may look if it were to be transformed by artists and focuses on visuals, decoration, exuberance and open-mindedness. Art cities and interesting places that the artist has visited from around the world have been used for inspiration and are referenced in the work. Colour and decoration would be in abundance and would enrich the urban landscape and add interesting sights to everyday surroundings, moving from homogenous grey zones, to something bespoke and individual. Whilst wandering around the unfamiliar city, Bard noticed that there are quite a number of Eastern European food stores that have opened in recent years. This led here to reflect on the non- British born inhabitants of Stoke. Bard wishes to draw attention to the way that artists like to explore the differences in culture that make life interesting, and respond to this diversity in their artwork. The pieces created here intend to celebrate this cultural diversity through referencing indigenous art of ethnic groups originally from places such as Poland and Pakistan.
Stoke-on-Trent born, and London- based, Sophie Bard’s surface design and illustrative and design practice draws inspiration from her knowledge of historic patterns such as Chintz and Art Nouveau, which she uses to create feminine motifs of flora and fauna with a graphic twist. Time spent travelling around countries such as India, Tunisia, Egypt, Israel, Europe, the US and many more helped to develop an intrigue for the unfamiliar, which is explored within her work.