I spent an enjoyable 10 weeks being a volunteer at last year’s Biennial. It was great gaining a deeper understanding of contemporary art and meeting a wide range of interesting volunteers. I was aware that many of them were practising artists and was therefore interested that a feature of recent biennials is that the volunteers will organise between themselves an exhibition of their own.
Last night I went along to the launch of their show ‘Not Just’ which is on at the Domino Gallery, Upper Newington St, Off Renshaw Street. The exhibition takes place from Thursday 17 January until Sunday 20 January, opening from 11 .00 – 17.00.
It was a great evening as I was able to meet again with people I had become friendly with during the Biennial. The gallery leant itself well to the exhibition as there were 17 volunteers exhibiting mainly one work each. Whether it was a portrait on a found piece of wood, alongside a piece of art based on a 24-hour writing exercise where the print formed patterns into wood grain, or a series of video pieces nestling in at the far end of the gallery; they formed a cohesive whole with many pieces mirroring or echoing each other. Some were a direct response to the Biennial.
One piece was a series of photographs taken in the Copperas Hill Building laid out in the form of a map, and looked at how the Royal Mail workers had interacted with the building. Another video piece looked at the theme of hospitality. Some echoed the youth of some of the volunteers; an example of this was a box made from mirrors that on first glance housed objects from childhood but were magically transformed into the harsh reality of adulthood.
I found the art fascinating as there was a wide variety of approaches which included using found paper bags and discarded lipsticks, to work influenced by op art, drawing, painting as well as an area new to me – performance art, with a piece inspired by the idea of a person criminalised by the police for his lifestyle choices.
There was a real buzz to the evening with many of the artists exhibiting in a public space for the first time. It was great seeing members of the Biennial staff there and members from the supporting galleries such as the Royal Standard. All seemed to me to be impressed by the work and enjoyed the 2 set pieces of performance art and a poetry reading.
It was great being able to meet the artists and discuss their work with them, which allowed me to gain a greater understanding of their creations. One piece was influenced by the artists having one night stands while another explained how friend’s suggestions had influenced the work. I am looking forward to going to back to spend more time with each work when the gallery is not so full.
I am not educated in art but am someone who is interested in gaining a greater understanding of contemporary art, and this show certainly helped me to understand a variety of artistic practices being carried out today.
This is a fleeting show only lasting 4 days and I would encourage people to go along to see it. I will be really interested to see what people’s views are and hope that responses will be put in the comments box.
The17 participating artists are – Holly Bagnall, Brendan Curtis, Norma Foulds, India Cawley Gellings, Tom George, Steven Hyland, Charles McCoy, Scott McDonald, Sean Robertson, Jordan Rodgers, Nicky Roscoe-Calvert, Mat Sanchez-Walker, Kathryn Shutler, Sumono, Alex R Taggart, Richard Timmins, Christian Watts.