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Hidden Gems Feature: Not Such a Small View Gallery

Not Such a Small View Gallery

Words by Alison Little
Article Originally published in Hidden Gems

Tucked away on Hanover Street, nestling in Liverpool’s city centre we have Gostins shopping arcade. In this we have a mishmash of independent traders: e-cigarettes to millinery, cafés to hairdressers, tattoo parlours to antiques. But it is also home to many artists: the art shop at ground floor level paving the way for Sophie Green’s studio, the building also the base for the Liver Sketching Club, and the combining of new technology with arts practice which is going on at DoES. Most importantly, it is also home to A Small View, one of Liverpool’s newest gallery spaces. Set up in 2015 by a couple of UCLAN students, but not just any ordinary art students. In 15 short months we have had 15 strong exhibitions, transforming the empty retail unit into an exhibition venue of calibre. The original floor tiles and their stickiness were ripped out and replaced by a painted surface. Although by their own account the first two shows were “atrocious”, the venue grew from that point. From there we have seen exhibitions of video art, architecture, performance, fine art, painting, photography, digital works and interactive sculpture, in addition to a leading performance curated by Jodie Lee involving a rain dance intended to cast away the flooding that the region fell victim to over the last year. This new space is certainly one to watch in Liverpool.

Benjamin Davies and Kelly Hayes curate, hang, administer and market this gem of the cultural scene. In day-to-day practice Kelly handles the graphics for posters and Ben is the Twitter person. The direction for the exhibition space is very much artist-led; Ben and Kelly have only said no to a partition wall being knocked down during the period the gallery has been open. There is a genuine long-standing friendship between the duo: both are from Liverpool and met while studying on the Art Foundation course in the city, before they both studied for the BA in Fine Art at UCLAN in Preston, followed by the MA which they will complete this autumn. Kelly works with digital based photography, sculpture and dabbles in film as a medium. Ben uses video game technology to create art based projections. Their works complement each other and their dynamic relationship is evident in the exhibitions they have held together.

Holodeck was the first major exhibition of Kelly and Ben’s work held at A Small View in spring 2015. This was a collaborative exhibition between the two curators and Jon Mackereth, a Liverpool-based architect. The exhibition explored alternative models of reality where interaction was key to the success of the collaboration. We were presented with photography on each of the adjacent walls leading towards a large video game simulation on the central wall. To one side Kelly showed a collection of digital prints where she had photographed an array of different coloured artificial lights leading towards an exit through the visual implication of a corridor or a doorway. Opposite this, Jon Mackereth presented an assemblage of darker prints in a grid-like formation; images simulated from a model which identified the passage of time through the presence of sunlight. On the central wall of the space we were given Ben’s digital installation. The video game took us through deserted streets and the debris of human inhabitance; buildings, plastic waste, signs and advertisements, using digital technology to explore a reality which exists outside of our current material world. The collaboration was a great success in terms of the simulation of model realities in favour of our actual surroundings.

Got Worms has been one of the most successful exhibitions held at A Small View; the exhibition period coincided with Light Night 2016, a key event on Liverpool’s cultural calendar. Roxy Topia and Paddy Gould were the artists behind the formation of the visual sculptures; worm-like forms suspended from walls and arranged between plinths. Roxy and Paddy have been collaborating since 2008, and recently completed a year-long residency in Roswell, New Mexico. Their creative process starts with drawing, which is digitally collaged, then printed on to satin, the sculptural forms then being created; forms which are tactile and can be moved into new positions. The team do not just work together as artists, but have also been in a relationship with one another for many years.

The provocative title of the show Got Worms is clearly intentional, and much of their work is of a sexual nature. Forms such as The Internal Clitoris draw on messages from the second brain and look at the ritual of sex and stretching inwards. In Acid Kiss Experiment we are confronted with a pair of ovaries presented in pen and airbrush. The visual was accompanied by an audio of a gorilla mating ritual. The pair claim the works are about maintaining desire in a long term relationship. Visually stunning, tactile pieces combining coiling and stretching to create intimate forms which explore physical existence.

A Small View are hosting a longer exhibition from 9th July to 19th August 2016, to coincide with the Liverpool Biennial. The White Pube is a collaborative relationship between Zarina Muhammad and Gabrielle de la Puente, who use various forms of digital media to project their views of the art world. A mixture of performance art and digital enhancement, they take a low-tech approach to producing work, with a strong element of humour running throughout. Drawing attention to popular culture through the use of karaoke to re-work popular songs such as Bohemian Rhapsody, they mix in the names of leading artists, such as Tracey Emin and Anish Kapoor; the results are free and spontaneous, mistakes left unedited to produce something that is raw and effective. Other works use podcast technology where other artists give their opinion on ‘High’ and ‘Low’ art. Having recently shown at MUESLI, based at the Royal Standard, A Small View will host The White Pube’s next major exhibition.

A Small View is a space that can be adapted to any medium, embracing all forms of contemporary practice. A gallery which collaborates with many organisations including FACT and the Hanover Project in Preston. So what is the future for Liverpool’s newest independent exhibition space? Firstly, Kelly and Ben intend to finish their MA courses, which will then allow them to commit more time to the gallery. They wish to keep the space free for artists to exhibit and for the public to look around and attend private views. Although they have received some funding from different sources the space is mainly funded by themselves, many of the works shown remaining the property of the artists. They plan to start hosting fine art video showings, workshops, and a more intensive programme of exhibitions; although initially they had sought out creatives to use the space, over the last few months artists have been being approaching them. There is also the potential for them to use other spaces on the upper levels of the Gostins Building. A magnificent start to an exhibition venue which has grown from humble beginnings to a space becoming prominent within the creative sector.

Read the paper online HERE.