01 December 2014 – 23 January 2015
The provisional, but vital, stages of making artworks; the fluid open-ended possibilities for their interpretation through display; the uncertain destinies that await all material artefacts, however precious – these often disconnected moments in the ‘life story’ of an art object are the topic of a new exhibition in Gallery North. Co-curated by Chris Dorsett and Sian Bowen from Paper Studio Northumbria, this exhibition explores not only how contemporary artists utilize the special properties of paper but also how the passage of paper-based artworks across studio tablesand gallery wallscan lead to an unknown ‘after’, a contingent world only tentatively related to the immediate concerns of viewing an exhibition.
Paper Studio Northumbria (PSN) provides a unique facility nationally and internationally for the research, teaching and scholarship of paper in relation to fine art, conservation and archiving. Importantly it is a platform for an exchange of ideas that transforms the processes of making and exhibiting into research-rich activities. By providing tables as well as gallery walls the curators offer exhibition visitors artworks that can be shuffled, picked up, and examined in a manner that underlines the artefactual status of paper. The aim is to present a ‘jumble’ of ideas about the future of paper research. Gallery North’s visitors are unlikely to behave as if they are at a jumble sale but our ambition is to stimulate the haphazard discoveries associated with this traditional method of trading second-hand goods. Imagine the wealth of ideas that might be rifled through and then re-used or recycled as a result of applying the notion of ‘rummage’ to PSN works of art.
Forty artists, all of whom have worked with PSN during the last three years, will feature in the exhibition. Their use of tables and walls will evolve as exhibitors re-arrange their contributions as part of PSN’s critical discussions and seminar programme. Within this evolutionary process two ‘waves’ of participation will enlarge the exhibition: the first being pieces from the wider community of fine art staff at Northumbria for whom paper plays an important role; and the second, an intervention by the research group Neuschloss which will underline the provisional character of exhibition-making and help us draw uncertain boundaries between before and after, between the impact of one research project on another, between the different stages of a changing exhibition idea.
Beyond the shifting dialogue of making and exhibiting, the notion of provisionality reaches out into the cultural and social afterlife of the artworks on display. To this end Dorsett provides an accompanying text which, in the context of the Research Excellence Framework, interrogates the meaning of ‘research impact’ for makers of paper artefacts. His sequence of six ultra-short stories imagine what future ‘users’ of our exhibits might tell us about the transformational effects of paper artworks after they have been given away or sold, collected or stored, misplaced or thrown out. Nothing about paper, table, wall and after ends up quite as expected.
Caroline Ali / Sian Bowen / Catherine Bullard / Sarah Casey / Chun Chao Chiu / Maureen Coade / Jane Colbourne / Lizzy Costerdine / Gerry Davies / Judith Davies / Chris Dorsett / Hassen Ebeid / Brian Fay / Sophie Foster / Ross Frew / Richard James Hall / Yvette Hawkins / Angela Hughes / Mark Jackson / Ricky James/ Sandra Johnston / Christopher Jones / Agnieszka Kozlowska / Zhao Kun / Lloyd-Wilson / Keith McIntyre / Siobhan McQuade / Clare Money / Michael Mulvihill / Daksha Patel / Graham Patterson / Lionel Playford / Joanne Proctor / Doris Rohr / Jess Shaw & Steuart Padwick/ Richard Talbot / Jill Wann / Carl von Weiler