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I’ve been to see ‘900 miles (from Home)’

This is the first UK solo exhibition by Jade Sweeting. It features a small selection of 8×10 black-and-white photographs of parts of motorcyclists’ bike jackets and leathers. The pictures are accompanied by an audio recording of motorcycle noises, which the exhibition notes reveal to be from the artist’s own bike.

Unfortunately, this didn’t do anything for me. The notes say that it is ‘erotic, sensual and tender’ and that it explores the artist’s position as a woman in the male-dominated world of motorbikes. I didn’t get any of that; it seemed like a collection of interestingly composed photos of zips and stuff. Perhaps, in part, this is because I have no direct knowledge or experience of the subculture Sweeting explores in this exhibition.

I’m pleased that the artist pursued her vision and that the gallery wasn’t shy of putting on a solo exhibition of work that’s a little less obvious. The result of both things is that some of the work featured will fail to connect with some of the audience. In this case, I’m afraid that applies to me.

900 miles (from Home) continues at the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art until 21 January.

This post was filed under: Art, Post-a-day 2023, , , .

I’ve visited ‘Fiona Crisp: Weighting Time’

Weighting Time is an exhibition of Fiona Crisp’s work spread over two different locations on two different sets of dates. I’ve been to see the portion exhibited at the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art: the portion at Sunderland Museum has already closed.

This was a small exhibition of photography and film drawn from across Crisp’s thirty-year career. Included were representations of large, deep underground industrial spaces, which contrasted with images of similarly structured above-ground buildings, such as theatres and cathedrals. Both seem like otherworldly spaces.

A film installation took us driving through the Boulby Mine which stretches out under the North Sea, to space imagery travelling through time itself. The industrial aesthetic of the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art complemented the work which also includes structures and seating designed by the artist to help viewers to contemplate the work.

I found this intriguing and enjoyable, though perhaps too small to be fully immersed or to completely appreciate all the ideas Crisp had in mind. Though, that feels like unfair criticism when I have effectively only seen half of the exhibition.

Fiona Crisp: Weighting Time continues at the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art until 3 September. A virtual version is also available online, if you’re into that sort of thing.

This post was filed under: Art, Post-a-day 2023, , , .

I’ve visited Mark Pinder’s ‘Macromancy’

People who are much more politically savvy than me suggest that the Tory party might run in 2024 on a platform of ‘the recovery plan is working, don’t risk switching to Labour.’ The logic of that is confounding in itself, but this photo of the 1992 Tory campaign from Mark Pinder’s exhibition neatly summed up the more profound problem from a North East perspective… though of course the Tories won in 1992.

Mark Pinder is a photo journalist, and this exhibition selects from his work from Margaret Thatcher’s 1979 election win through to the present day. It has a heavy North East focus, and it is brilliant curated.

This photo of miners ending the last production shift at the Vane Tempest Colliery is positioned alongside the photo below, showing the fabrication of the head of the Angel of the North. The latter is often said to be a commemoration of the region’s mining and industrial heritage: the two photos are dated just four years apart.

There was much to enjoy in this exhibition—it’s not solely about political anger and betrayal, even if those were the bits that initially caught my eye. It’s a brilliant collection which provides real insight into the history of the North East region over the last forty years or so, and well worth a visit.

If you haven’t seen this show, then you’ve missed it: Macromancy closed yesterday at the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art. This probably therefore counts as bad blogging.

This post was filed under: Art, Post-a-day 2023, , , .

I’ve been to visit ‘Black Britain’ by Jhanee Wilkins

‘Black Britain’ was originally—in much rougher form—a blog created by Jhanee Wilkins, a photographer from the West Midland. It’s now an exhibition at the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art.

The exhibition has a simple, repeating structure. Each series begins with an A4 page of text in which a black person introduces themselves and their experience of racism while growing up and living in Britain. This is followed by a photograph of them looking directly at the camera, one of them looking elsewhere, and a third of an object from their lives.

There is something deeply affecting about staring directly into the eyes of a person immediately after reading about their experience of racism. I was moved by the experience of Kae, born in Wolverhampton, who says,

I do not feel represented in this country, I do not feel welcome even after 42 years.

I can only begin to imagine, and certainly can’t fully appreciate, how fundamentally destabilising it must be to feel unwelcome in the country where you were born and have lived your whole life.

I was struck in a complete different way by Anne Marie’s story:

I think mainly, in the workplace that’s where I find that it is awkward for me to completely be myself. If I would like to bring my own food into work to heat up in the staff room, there’s a whole load of questions about what I’m heating up or the smell of it.

This reminded me of how privileged I am to not have to live with self-consciousness about this sort of thing, and to be able to go through life barely giving it a second thought.

‘Black Britain’ continues at the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art until 16 April.

This post was filed under: Art, Post-a-day 2023, Travel, , , .

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