This time in the grounds of Houghton Hall, built for the first British Prime Minister, Sir Robert Walpole and pleasingly only a short distance from where Mrs Weir and I spend our weekends (for clarification it’s also where we spend our weeks).
Now owned by the 7th Marquess of Cholmondeley (David to his friends), the Hall and it’s surrounding parkland are home to a number of pieces of contemporary sculpture from the likes of Rachel Whiteread, Richard Long, Phillip King, Zhan Wang and James Turrell.
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Tags: 7th Marquess of Cholmondeley, Houghton Hall, James Turrell, Phillip King, Rachel Whiteread, Raermar Magenta, Richard Long, Scholar Rock, Sir Robert Walpole, Skyspace, Zhan Wang
It’s not often I travel to Peterborough for the sake of art. In fact it’s not often I travel to Peterborough for the sake of anything, even though it’s the city most accessible to us at Weir HQ. That’s maybe being impossibly harsh to the “worst place in Britain not to have a car” (according to the Campaign for Better Transport), however if there is joy to be taken from the city it’s often well hidden.
So Resident a new exhibition by artists Marc Atkinson, Jessie Brennan and Matt Lewis at the City Gallery looked like a good reason to return, and more importantly was one that had successfully appeared on my radar.
First things first, if you make it along to the City Gallery do persist. When I arrived on Saturday morning I was told the exhibition was closed as the Museum (within which the Gallery sits) was having a special events day. I expressed my disappointment and was told that even if I wanted to see it I’d have to pay. Sensing some confusion as to what was and what was not available to see I happily paid the entrance fee (evidently not something everybody does) then wandered slowly round to the Gallery to find it open as normal. As I said the joys in Peterborough are well hidden.
The exhibition sees the three artists exploring, in very different ways, the tensions between the people living in the city and the rapid development that has surrounded them since Peterborough was designated a New Town in 1967 (which is a bit confusing because according to a popular internet based encyclopaedia it’s been a city since 1541). Jessie Brennan uses cyanotypes and recorded voices in her work around the city’s ‘community growing project’, Matt Lewis uses only sound recordings in his ongoing installation that considers the present and the future of Peterbough and photographer Marc Atkinson uses pictures and film documenting the edgeland landscape of the city.
I hugely enjoyed the work of all three of the artists involved in Resident, this is a really fine exhibition which extends well beyond what’s contained within the gallery. However I was particularly taken with the work of Marc Atkinson and happily sat through the the sixty minute film he’s produced as part of the project – which sees his images of the edgelands cut with fascinating archive footage of those planning the expansion of the city, which in turn sit against audio recordings of those who live amongst the vision now realised. There’s a short excerpt you can view over here, however I really hope he makes it more readily available to those less successful than me at gaining entry to the gallery, because it’s a really great piece of work.
If you’re not a resident of (or even local to) the flatlands then I should probably point you to the Along the Outskirts project website, which I shall no doubt investigate further over the next few days. There’s also an exhibition catalogue which you can buy from the site here that looks well worth adding to the collection, especially as it appears to have some kind of contribution from writer and social historian Ken Worpole.
The exhibition runs until the 28th August so whilst there may not be many reasons to visit Peterborough as a rule, there’s at least one reason to visit until then.
UPDATE: I couldn’t find this when I scribbled the above down last night, however I’ve eventually located it, so here is a programme on the exhibition recently broadcast over on ResonanceFM, it’s an hour long but well well worth your time. If features interviews with all three of the artists concerned, with a particularly interesting conversation with Jessie Brennan on her time at The Green Backyard (which sounds like an additional reason to visit Peterborough). Would love to have heard more on the discussion around “imperfect spaces”, and thanks to her reference to Doreen Massey’s assertion of “place being a constellation of social connections” I heading off in a whole number of directions.
Filed under: Art, Photography, Place, Pyschogeography | Leave a Comment
Tags: City Gallery, Cyanotype, Doreen Massey, Edge Land, Edgelands, Jessie Brennan, Ken Worpole, Marc Atkinson, Matt Lewis, Peterborough, Peterborough Museum, Pyschogeography, Resonance FM
News of a new art gallery opening in my hometown is something to be celebrated, it’s not a common occurrence.
Reporting on the news last week the local press seemed less convinced.
“Visitors to the new GroundWork gallery in Lynn will be forgiven for doing a double-take as they come through the front door. For there on the newly-painted white walls is a huge brown stain, which at first glance looks like the departing builders have had a mishap.”
The “huge brown stain” is actually an original piece by Richard Long, one of his series of “thrown splash works” created using mud and made “spontaneously on gallery walls and floors”, (with the mud in question coming from the river which sits a few metres from the gallery’s front doors).
A further piece in today’s paper continues with the theme of damning with (very) faint praise – “Freshly painted and bursting onto the Purfleet scene* is a bright new gallery displaying the work of local and internationally renowned artists and as part of the launch there is a new piece created in mud by an artist which has been commissioned specifically, I imagine, to provoke a response from visitors.”
With the inference being that provoking a response is somehow a bad thing.
Quiet why we want art that doesn’t provoke a response seems a little lost on the writer, who goes on to proudly tell us that they previously found themselves “almost incandescent with disbelief at the sight of people worshiping at the shrine of Damien Hirsts’s fish tank full of dead shark or eulogising over the meaning of Tracey Emin’s tragic camping installation”.
As it happens the gallery are quite clear about what they want to achieve (although perhaps the local press have taken umbrage at the missing apostrophe in their promotional material), and the opening exhibition ‘Sunlight and Gravity’ with works by Roger Ackling and Richard Long seems a pretty decent first effort.
Here’s hoping for more of the same.
*To clarify ‘the Purfleet scene’ isn’t some impossibly outré collective, in this instance the writer is referring to a particular part of my hometown. That said if anyone wants to join me in creating said scene please apply at the usual address.
Filed under: Art | Leave a Comment
Tags: Art, Gallery, Gravity, GroundWork, Groundwork Gallery, King's Lynn, Richard Long, Roget Ackling, Sunlight
I’m all for marking the days that pass, however I feel a bit sheepish in celebrating eight years of digyourfins given my lackadaisical approach in the last few months, I blame the fact that 2016 hasn’t exactly encouraged positivity so far.
Still onwards and upwards eh?
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“Opinionated weather forecasters telling me it’s going to be a miserable day, miserable to who? I quite like a bit of drizzle, so stick to the facts.”
Like Nigel Blackwell, who wrote the lines above, I’ve always been a little bemused that meteorologists deviate from the scientific so quickly and easily – because I too enjoy a bit of drizzle.
“The air is soft and clear but the day’s rain continues to sink silently into the fields and fens. The land here is so flat it will hold on to the water for a long time before it drains north-east towards the Wash; but drain it will: first into the peat, then by degrees into the field drains and lodes, and to the tributaries, passing through pumping stations and locks and sluices as it goes, then into the River Witham, the Welland, the Nene or the Great Ouse, and eventually into the chill North Sea.”
As well as the four beautifully written walks she’s also gathered together 100 Words Concerning Rain which appear at the end of the book and allows me to confirm that today we have experienced a land-lash (high winds and heavy rain), a basking (a drenching in heavy shower) and for most of the day it’s been hoying it doon (raining heavily).
Filed under: Weather | Leave a Comment
Tags: Melissa Harrison, Nigel Blackwell, Rain, Rain - Four Walks in English Weather, Weather
Sadly my hometown isn’t awash with art.
The local Arts Centre recently closed down having struggled on for the last few years, and the alternatives are few and far between (although somewhat unexpectedly we do have a new gallery arriving soon, opening with an exhibition of work by Roger Ackling and Richard Long). So it’s both a surprise, and to a certain extant a disappointment to find that in 1964 the town was host to a unique exhibition of Henry Moore sculptures. Surprise because I was completely unaware that the exhibition had taken place, and disappointment because it’s a long distant memory.
For reference purposes evidence of this exhibition appears in the November 1964 issue of The Architectural Review, and whilst I’d like to claim credit for stumbling across this fascinating piece, that particular plaudit goes to @nfkadam, who appears to have come across it whilst spending an afternoon researching at the British Library.
In the introduction to the piece by art critic Robert Melville (apparently a key member of the Birmingham Surrealists, no me neither) he tells us that “Something wonderful happened to an English town this summer”. And that wonderful thing was this exhibition of twelve large sculptures by Moore, placed in open-air sites around the oldest and most historic part of the town.
Perhaps the brevity of the exhibition (it only ran for a single month) is the reason that the memory of it has faded so far from local recollection, however the fact it happened at all is rather wonderful.
Wonder if they’d be up for a return trip?
Filed under: Art, King's Lynn, Norfolk | Leave a Comment
Tags: @nfkadam, Birmingham Surrealists, British Library, Groundwork Gallery, Henry Moore, King's Lynn Arts Centre, Richard Long, Robert Melville, Roger Ackling, The Architectural Review
Haven’t blogged for an age, which is a shame because doing so makes me a marginally saner human being. So I was cheered on reading a recent blogpost from Russell Davies, to find that I’m not wholly alone:
“If I haven’t blogged for a while I get a bit blocked because all the tiny blog size thoughts jostle together in my head and I feel like I can’t let them out until I’ve stacked them up properly into something coherent and LONG FORM. And I’m not very good at that so nothing happens.
I need to kick myself to get more small things out. So this is all this is. This is this.”
Which isn’t to suggest that my writing needs as much coherence as Russell’s, just that if he struggles from time to time to put pen to paper I perhaps shouldn’t beat myself up about my lack of success.
However I also need to kick myself to “get more small things out”. So this is that.
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Tags: Russell Davies