After the wonderful show that I visited last year I thought that I would make a visit to the MFA at Newcastle University an annual event.
The artists involved in this years exhibition are: Julia Heslop, Francisca Alsúa Morchio, Sean Maltby, Isabel Lima, Lyn Hagan, Toby Phips Lloyd, Bernie Clarkson, Gareth Hudson, Sara Borges, Rosie Morris, Harriet Plewis, Joshua Ipoot, Rebecca Woods, Ruth Brenner, Elena Koch, Rosalind McLachlan, Iolanda Dias, Katie Dent, Sam Thorpe, Samantha Cary, Zoë Allen, and Theresa Poulton.
I was really looking forward to the show and set aside a day for the visit so that I could write my thoughts down as I did last year. Unfortunately I found the show lacking, in that I wasn’t caught up emotionally or intellectually with much of what was exhibited. There were two or three pieces that I felt more attuned with, but not in the same way as last year where a few rooms actually excited me and got the pulse racing and/or took my breath away.
One piece reminded me very much of Ana Mendieta’s “Silueta Series”, where Mendieta uses her body as an intevention in the natural landscape. The piece worked on a certain level but was too similar for me to be comfortable with.
The one which I felt the most for, was;
Ruth Brenner: This was an installation of wonder, using materials which gradually became liquid from a perceived solid state, moving through the space that they weren’t meant to inhabit plays with the liminal quality of life. There seems to be sculptural form, but this form is not frozen in the traditional state of wood, metal or stone. These materials are used, but as a support rather than the constituent parts. I wanted to be able to watch this to see the movement but the movement is almost epochal rather than the transience of human perception.
It felt as thought there was a strong movement of large, architectural installation pieces. I don’t know if this was due to the influence of a tutor or it was just a vagary of the group going through the MFA at this moment. Though the structures were both technically excellent and filled the space, they didn’t have the feeling of ‘inhabiting’ the space, they felt a little out of joint.
Still looking forward to next year and to see how some of these themes develop and to see the new interim works.
That is what is being asked by The Northerner Blog in the Guardian today. They are asking for contributors to post an image that captures the essence of the North.
Whose North? There is always the chocolate box image of Dales and Moors, unbroken wilderness, apart from James Herriot careening across them in his old car. Hills and lakes, unspoilt beaches and little stone villages shimmering in the sunset.
There is the Christian North, the North of Cathedrals, Saints and Holy Islands. Pilgrimages across the land, fleeing from Viking pillagers, writing works of illuminated art and deciding the way forward for the catholic church.
Or there is the smashed North, the North of Thatcher’s cruelty and industrial decline. A once proud heritage of steel and chemical works, pit villages, ship building and union activity. The Jarrow marchers and Quaker sensibilities. The first locomotives and the crucible of Britain’s industrial revolution.
Book of Kells
The North I know is an area where people live in great diversity and try to get on with their lives, but has time to commission some of the best public art in the country and has made a feature of regeneration through art projects such as The Sage, The Baltic, Temenos, Hepworth Gallery and The Angel of the North. This large scale development mixes well with the industrial heritage of the area and sits well, all of the above is the North I know and to try and distill an essence is not really needed, just celebrate it all, in images, words and imagination.