over the past week or so i have seen some wonderful exhibitions in sheffield and leeds, some of which are coming towards their closing dates. here is a quick summary of some of the best, which i would highly recommend fitting into your plans for this weekend.
standing out as a) the most thought provoking and impressive display and b) the one that closes on saturday, i would put tom ireland’s notes on western expansion , currently on display at bloc projects, at the top of the list of things to see. ireland’s investigation into the relationship(s) between modernist art and the western space programme of the 20th century as proponents of interrelated aesthetic and ideological values is a wonderfully thought out show. somehow this is the second terrific lunar themed exhibition i have seen this year, following republic of the moon at fact in liverpool, and it holds similar qualities to part of the earlier show in that it places the viewer into a relationship with the space/space. ireland’s triumph at the centre of this experience is a soundpiece which slows beethoven’s moonlight sonata down to fill the time that neil armstrong spent walking on the moon. with this ireland builds a work of brilliant poignancy, which changes all relationships within the gallery space by placing the viewer into an atmosphere of slow but recognisable progress towards a recognised but unrecognisable goal. it is a rarity that i see a show where the physical embodiment of the art take such a back seat, but here the ‘art’ on the ground/walls is there as a placemarker on your journey along the soundscape.
hoping down the road from bloc, i cannot even begin to express how much i love the print it exhibition/pop-up artist book shop at site gallery. the entirety of site has been taken over by books, books and more books, and as you may have picked up from reading this blog i am quite a fan of books! the main gallery space sees a collaboration between the artists’ publishing platform copy and the coracle press archive, resulting in a beautiful look at what can be achieved by the medium of the artist book, and some of the best examples i have seen of this in a while. real standouts throughout the exhibition were the work of erica van horn of ireland’s coracle. the standout piece from van horn’s work in my opinion was a series of books detailing the interior of envelopes, before using the medium to explore art history. make sure to check out the related events and talks that copy have planned alongside this display which look fantastic.
hop through into the smaller gallery space and you will find your wallet trying to dive out of your back pocket, as site have pulled together a collection of the best artists books available in their pop-up shop. i mentally spent around £160 in there after a quick snoop around, with work by simon faithful, john dilnot, robert williams and the ever-impressive sheffield publicity department. it is also wonderfully arranged, using pallets as low budget shelving units, a lovely touch.
a quick dash across sheffield is well worth risking the sun/howling wind/soaking rain (delete as applicable) is well worth it to get over to bank street arts, where they also have a pair of fantastic displays of artist books presently. clare rogers’ from here you can almost see the sea: a response to living in plymouth is, quite simply, brilliant. rogers uses a variety of printed to media to explore what her hometown of plymouth means to here, what it looks like, why she loves it, why she hates it, and what it feels like to be there. this sounds like an interesting enough project for a visual artist, but here the artist uses words alone to engage with her subject matter, combining ‘photography’ with poetry and book works to create her image of plymouth. i’ve been back to this exhibition twice already, and suspect i will be there again before it closes at the start of september.
the second artist book display at bank street at the moment is elisabeth tonnard’s sheffield artist books prize 2011 winning a dialogue in useful phrases. i’ll admit that i found the printed version of this piece far more effective than the soundpiece which has been created using project guttenberg audio files to re-contextualise tonnard’s book. still a really interesting idea, which is creates a great dialogue from abstract phrases.
lastly for this roundup, a train trip over to leeds to see a fantastic new exhibition at blip blip blip, the gallery space within leeds college of art. this week saw the opening of jenny west’s projection, and exhibition which explores the relationship between architectural space and domestic objects through the process of drawing. or, in other words, stunningly detailed and precise drawings of jelly moulds which look better than most architectural designs you see. west has a habit of leaving large amounts of her construction work on show within her work, which for me works brilliantly as the process is given as much of an airing at the product. the relationship between the works on paper and the large scale wall drawing create an interesting comparison of scale and working practices, and if you get over there quickly enough you might still be able to grab one of the beautifully presented essays which accompany the artist’s work.
nb – the below image doesn’t do west’s work anywhere close to justice