Close To The Edge


BLOG - Resident Exhibition#4

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.

BLOG - Along The Outskirts#1
BLOG - Along The Outskirts#2
BLOG - Along The Outskirts#3

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.

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