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In Conversation with Adam Murray 3 September 2018

Bonington Gallery curator Tom Godfrey recently caught up with Adam Murray, curator of our September – October exhibition, The Accumulation of Things. Read on to find out more about Adam’s approach to curating and his interest in representations of everyday life – particularly in the north of England – as well as his background in photography and experience as an educator.


Preston is my Paris zine.

 

Tom Godfrey: The most recent exhibition that you (co-)curated was North: Fashioning Identity that I saw at both the Open Eye Gallery and Somerset House locations. The exhibition took quite a pragmatic and museological approach to presenting a history of fashion (with associated disciplines) connected to a geographical context. The exhibition at Bonington appears to be much looser in concept and suggests a more intuitive approach to putting together an exhibition. I wondered if you could expand a little on these two approaches and what your initial motivations were behind the formation of The Accumulation of Things.

Adam Murray: I agree, the two approaches to the exhibitions, and indeed the exhibitions themselves, are quite different in some ways.  However, they are both very much linked by subjects that I have been interested in for many years and I do think that there are similarities, particularly in the way the artists deal with their notion of the familiar.

Since I moved to Preston for university in 2001, the north west of England has been my familiar and the years spent there have been very influential on the work that I have made in the past, for example, Preston is my Paris.  This was an ongoing project produced predominantly with Robert Parkinson that dealt with our everyday life in Preston.  This then motivated a strong interest in how everyday life and personal experiences inform creative work, as well as a strong interest in representation and identity of the north of England.  The latter of which became manifest with the North: Fashioning Identity exhibition that you mention.


Installation view from the exhibition ‘North: Fashioning Identity’, Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool, 2017.

 

With this exhibition at Bonington, I wanted to move away from being so geographically specific and but still engage with work that was clearly about the circumstance, experiences and personal histories of the artists.  In my work as a lecturer I also work with and encounter a lot of work by early career practitioners, so I saw the invitation from Bonington as a fantastic opportunity to showcase this.  The sourcing of the work has been an intuitive process yes.  I encountered all of in the last couple of years at either degree shows, in tutorials or through recommendations by friends.  It felt like it came together very naturally.

TG: As evidenced throughout your projects there is a focus and celebration of the so-called ‘regions’ and the practices and associated histories that dwell within them. I wondered whether you could talk about this further, what is it about these geographies that motivates you and the others you work with?

 AM: Primarily it is to do with my own experiences and places I have lived.  I grew up in Shepshed, a small town not too far from Nottingham, then moved to Preston for university and spent ten years living there.  Although I now live in Manchester and partly work in London, I am still active in exploring regional towns and cities.  As you mention, this has been a feature of previous projects and exhibitions, I think because I have spent the majority of my life outside of major cities.  This has developed my awareness that these places matter.  For me, it is not about creating a hierarchy, but it is about encouraging the same exploration of smaller places in a similar way to large urban centres.

As the major ‘creative cities’ are given so much coverage, it is often, not always, but often the work by people from places other than recognised centres, that can offer an alternative and therefore more innovative view on things.  I think that is reflected in most of the work in the exhibition.  It is also why I am excited to collaborate with Bonington, it is important for these spaces to exist outside of London.


From ‘Preston Bus Station’ issue of Preston is my Paris, 2010.

 

TG: The group exhibitions that interest me always present practices that extend beyond the objects in a room, so the individual contexts, networks and histories represented by the artists protract, conflate and interrupt what might be physically on show. I wondered if you could talk a bit further about how you have brought together this set of practices and what might be represented by the exhibition that we might not see physically in the gallery. The premise that you present at first glance is quite simple, but the array and depth to the practices represented by the exhibition reveals to me something much more complex and nuanced.

 AM: All of the artists in the exhibition have produced work whilst being based in Britain for the last few years, so I definitely think that there are a number of narratives and reflections on recent general experiences.  However, it was also important for me to work with artists from different backgrounds so that their own personal approach offers a variety of interpretation.

I always try to present work in quite a simple way, without being over theoretical with text etc.  It is important for me to create a space that doesn’t feel intimidating and respect that an audience will be able to engage with the work without the need for extensive direction from a curator.


Installation view from the exhibition ‘North: Fashioning Identity’, Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool, 2017.

 

TG: I closely consider Bonington Gallery’s context of being an ‘art school’ gallery when programming and identifying the practices we present. I’m always drawn to people who have a lot of cross-over in their practices, and have done different things and occupied different contexts. I wondered if you could talk about your background, and the different projects you’ve worked on over recent years, and paint a picture of your own relationship to working with/across different artforms.

AM: My background is mainly rooted in photography.  I studied photography at university in Preston and as mentioned before, the first major project after this was Preston is my Paris.

Since I was a teenager though I’ve also had a strong interest in fashion photography.  This has manifest in different ways but most recently in North: Fashioning Identity which I co-curated with Lou Stoppard.  The exhibition included a range of different media and art forms all linked to one subject, the influence of the North of England on Fashion.

I have also worked in Higher Education for 15 years.  To begin with it was on the photography course at University of Central Lancashire, then moved on to Fashion Communication at Liverpool John Moores.  Now I’m working on Fashion Art Direction at Manchester School of Art and pathway leader for MA Fashion Image at Central Saint Martins.  I find it a real privilege to be working with new creative talent, learning what they are about, what they want to communicate and then responding to that.  It also appealed to me that Bonington is part of a university.

The main two things that I think link all of this is collaboration and exploring the relationship between different practices.  My work simply wouldn’t exist without this and I think putting exhibitions together is the ideal way for me to engage with an audience.


From ‘You could be in London, You could be in Vegas, But you’re in Brierfield’ issue of Preston is my Paris, 2010.

 

The Accumulation of Things opens with a preview on Thursday 27 September, alongside Bonington Vitrines #8: House of Wisdom. RSVP via email to confirm your attendance.

All images courtesy of Adam Murray.

Elijah - The Definition of Grime (To Me): In Photos 16 May 2018

Last night we welcomed DJ, promoter and Butterz cofounder, Elijah for an engaging lecture and Q&A; tracing his journey into and through different areas of the music industry, exploring the importance of questioning everything, and what happens when “what if?” is turned into “why not?”…

Thanks to writer, critic (and grime fan) Jonathan P Watts for hosting, and to Ashley Holmes, whose 2017 film Everybody’s Hustling set the scene for the evening. It was great to welcome a lot of new faces to the gallery – so big thanks to everyone who joined us, too!

Video Days Spotlight: Elijah 11 May 2018

Bringing the Video Days event programme to a close, we’re excited to welcome Elijah for a talk and Q&A on Tuesday 15 May, from 6.30 pm – 8.30 pm.

Elijah is a DJ and promoter, and along with Skilliam, co-founder of the grime record label Butterz. In these various roles Elijah has travelled the world and shared stages with some of grime’s biggest names. For six years he hosted his own grime show on Rinse FM. Over the past year Elijah has been Associate Artistic Director at Lighthouse Arts, Brighton, an arts and culture agency producing, supporting and presenting new art, film, music, design and games. Supported by Arts Council England, this initiative promotes diversity in the arts, of which, in the UK, only a small percent of artistic directors are black and minority ethnic.

In 2014, grime began to dominate popular music. In 2015, the Tottenham-based MC Skepta beat both David Bowie and Radiohead to the Mercury Prize. When Stormzy re-recorded the single “Shut Up”, originally a viral YouTube video, it entered the 2015 Christmas UK Singles Chart at number eighteen. Since then, grime has soundtracked the so-called ‘youthquake’ that, among other things, has been credited with blocking Theresa May and the Conservatives’ hoped-for landslide in last year’s general election. Grime is the music of a generation.

As well as plotting his own experience of working in grime, by which a history of grime will emerge, Elijah’s talk will address the interrelations between visual art and music culture. He will discuss the importance of inquisitiveness and creativity in work and explore how applying organisational skills learnt in the arts and culture sector could be used in music programming, and vice versa.

Elijah’s lecture will be followed by a Q+A, hosted by Jonathan P. Watts.

Ashley Holmes’ film Everybody’s Hustling will be played on loop all day on Tuesday 15 May, from 10 am to 5 pm, then played once at the start of this event.

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» Find out more about Video Days Week Five screenings.

Images: courtesy of Elijah / Butterz

Video Days Spotlight: Emily Richardson 4 May 2018

Emily Richardson is a UK based filmmaker who creates film portraits of particular places. Her work focuses on sites in transition and covers an extraordinarily diverse range of landscapes including empty East London streets, forests, North Sea oil fields, post-war tower blocks, empty cinemas and Cold War military facilities. She is currently doing a practice-led PhD on modern architectural space in artists’ film and video at the Royal College of Art in London.

Richardson’s film Beach House, 2015 will be screened in the gallery on Tuesday 8 May (looped all day).

Beach House is a film about a unique example of rural modernism, built on the UK coast of Suffolk by architect John Penn. Penn was an architect, painter, musician and poet whose nine houses in East Suffolk are all built with uncompromising symmetry adhering to the points of the compass in their positioning in the landscape they use a limited language of materials and form that were influenced by his time spent working in California with Richard Neutra. They are Californian modernist pavilions in the Suffolk landscape.

Beach House is John Penn’s most uncompromising design in terms of idea as form. The film combines an archive film made by Penn himself on completion of the house with experimental sound recordings made during the same period and material recently filmed in the house to explore a convergence of filmic and architectural language and allow the viewer to piece together Beach House in its past and present forms. More info…

http://emilyrichardson.org.uk/

Images: courtesy of Emily Richardson and LUX, London.

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Video Days: Preview in Photos 20 April 2018

Big thanks to everyone who came along to the Preview of Video Days last night! We really enjoyed hosting Nottingham’s skate community for an evening of photos and film screenings – as well as a great talk from Chris Lawton, co-founder of Skate Nottingham. By the end of the evening a mini skate session broke out …inside the gallery…

A huge thank you again to Skate Nottingham, Varial Magazine, SkatePal, Blind Skateboards and everyone else involved for their support!


Skater: Vic Camilleri


Skater: Elliot Maynard


Vic Camilleri / Elliot Maynard


Vic Camilleri


Elliot Maynard

 

Video Days Spotlight: Rollo Jackson 18 April 2018

Rollo Jackson is a London-based director whose work spans music videos, commercial work, and documentary filmmaking.

Jackson grew up immersed in the UK’s dance music culture. His music films for James Blake, Tate Britain and Warp Records all bear the subtle traces of mid-90s escapades spent clad in Versace prints and box-fresh Reeboks and soundtracked by crackling pirate radio or booming warehouse speakers.

His short film Gang Signs & Prayer will be looped in the Gallery on Wednesday 2 May.

A visual testament to Stormzy’s life and upbringing, the film chronicles Stormzy’s inner battles and temptations as he becomes master of his own destiny. Return of the Rucksack, Bad Boys and 100 Bags, taken from Stormzy’s award winning debut studio album Gang Signs & Prayer, serve as the soundtrack to the film of the same name.

The film has also recently been nominated for a Webby Award. You can vote for Gang Signs & Prayer here.

Slimzee’s Going On Terrible will be looped in sequence with Gang Signs & Prayer on Wednesday 2 May.

Slimzee (‘Godfather of Grime’) was the co-founder of Rinse FM and DJ in the UK Garage collective ‘Pay As You Go Cartel’. Slimzee’s Going On Terrible charts his life, following his early days in pirate radio to receiving a career-threatening Asbo. Features old & new footage and interviews from fellow DJ’s & MC’s and even his own mother.

www.rollojackson.com 

Browse Video Days screenings:


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Video Days Spotlight: Karen Cunningham 9 April 2018

Karen Cunningham is an artist based in Glasgow whose practice incorporates moving image, sculpture and photography. She studied photography at Edinburgh College of Art, including a study exchange to the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore USA, and completed her MFA at Glasgow School of Art. Her film and video works have been shown throughout the UK and Europe including Tramway, Glasgow; Collective Gallery, Edinburgh; Forum Stadtpark, Graz, Austria and the Malmö Konsthall, Sweden. Interested in the ideas progress and attribution Karen’s work explores the overlapping of emergent and residual aspects within culture and technology often drawing on disciplines such as Science-Fiction and Anthropology which utilise speculative approaches to knowledge and interpretation.

Karen also curates exhibitions, organises events and writes texts. These include the symposium ‘An Endless Theater: the convergence of contemporary art and anthropology in observational cinema’ featuring works by Karen Cunningham, Edward S. Curtis, Geoffrey Farmer, Rosalind Nashashibi, Jean Rouch, Sterling Ruby and John Smith at University of Edinburgh (2013) the online screening and essay series ‘The Anthropology Effect’ for MAP magazine (2013-14) and ‘Viewfinders’ a curated selection of artists film & videos as part of the artists moving image programme at Tramway, Glasgow for ‘Generation’ (2014).

Karen’s film Movable Type; Under Erasure, 2016 will be looped all day on Saturday 28 April.

Commissioned by Legion TV, it was first shown at The Showroom, London in 2016. Filmed largely on location at Writing-on-Stone, Canada the work features an original monologue written and read by the eminent theorist and cultural critic Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak.

www.karencunningham.org

Images: Courtesy of Karen Cunningham

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Video Days Spotlight: Forensic Architecture 4 April 2018

Forensic Architecture (FA) is a research agency, based at Goldsmiths, University of London, who undertake advanced architectural and media research on behalf of international prosecutors, human rights organisations and political and environmental justice groups. Forensic architecture is also an emergent academic field developed at Goldsmiths, which refers to the production and presentation of architectural evidence – buildings and urban environments and their media representations.

In recent years FA has successfully tested its methodologies in a number of landmark legal and human rights cases undertaken together with and on behalf of threatened communities, Non-governmental organisations (NGOs), prosecutors and the United Nations (UN).

77sqm_9:26min, 2016, (27:23 mins)
Screening: Saturday 21 April, 11 am – 3 pm
Showing every 30 mins (free, no prior booking required).

Commissioned by the ‘Unraveling the NSU Complex’ people’s tribunal; Haus Der Kulturen Der Welt (HKW); Initiative 6 April; and documenta14.

Shortly after 17:00 on the 6 April 2006, Halit Yozgat, 21 years old, was murdered while attending the reception counter of his family run Internet café in Kassel, Germany. His was the ninth of ten racist murders committed by a neo-Nazi group known as the National Socialist Underground or NSU across Germany between 2000 and 2007. 

At the time of the killing, an intelligence officer named Andreas Temme was present in the shop. Temme was at the time an employee of the State Office for Constitutional Protection (Landesamt für Verfassungsschutz), the domestic intelligence agency for the German state of Hessen. Temme did not disclose this fact to the police, but was later identified from his internet records.

In his interrogation by the police, and in the subsequent NSU trial in Munich, Temme denied being a witness to the incident, and claimed not to have noticed anything out of the ordinary. The court accepted his testimony. It determined that Temme was present at the back room of the internet café at the time of the murder. It also accepted that from his position in the shop it was possible not to have witnessed the killing.

Within the 77 square meters of the Internet café and the 9:26 minutes of the incident, different actors crossed paths — members of migrant communities, a state employee and the murderers — and were architecturally disposed in relation to each other. The shop was thus a microcosm of the entire social and political controversy that makes the ‘NSU Complex’.

In November 2016, eleven years after the murder, an alliance of civil society organisations known as ‘Unraveling the NSU Complex’ commissioned Forensic Architecture to investigate Temme’s testimony and determine whether it could be truthful.


A composite of Forensic Architecture’s physical and virtual reconstructions of the internet cafe in which the murder of Halit Yozgat on 6 April 2006 occurred. Image: Forensic Architecture, 2017


Simulated propagation of sound within a digital model of the internet café that was designed to mimic the exact dimensions and materials of the actual space. Image: Forensic Architecture and Anderson Acoustics, 2017.

 

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Michael Orchard - Lace Entrepreneur 29 March 2018

During the Lace Unarchived exhibition, we have been pleased to officially launch the lace archive at NTU as the ‘Michael Orchard Lace Archive’.

NTU’s Amanda Briggs-Goode (centre) with David Orchard (left) and Research Fellow Dr. Gail Baxter

Michael Orchard was the owner of several lace businesses in the Nottingham area - Orchard & Clarke, Floral Textiles, Orchid Laces and Walter Fletchers, The Warper. He studied lace design at People’s College Nottingham in the 1950s as part of his 7-year apprenticeship. He started his own business at the age of 22 and went on to design and manufacture home textiles for his own factories and design lace for intimate apparel for all of the top lingerie brands  including Triumph, Berlei, and Wacoal. With clients from all over the world, but particularly in New York’s Garment District, he also taught the next generation of American textile manufacturers who would send their sons over to him for six months to a year to learn all aspects of the trade.

Lace Unarchived

Michael’s son, David Orchard, has, as part of a memorial to his Father in recognition of his contribution to the lace industry and heritage of Nottingham, kindly chosen to donate Michael’s collection of over 30 lace history and design books to NTU in the hope that they will continue to educate aspiring designers. He has also donated funds to support a research fellow to work with the archive to support our ongoing work to evaluate the collection from a conservation perspective to ensure that the it continues to be accessible to future generations and that they continue to benefit from this important resource.

Michael Orchard is seen in this photo (bottom left) of the Battle of Britain lace panel and his wife at the top right

Battl of Britain Panel Lace Unarchived

Battle of Britain Panel shown at Nottingham’s Council House

Commissioned work for Lace Unarchived 29 March 2018

Lace Unarchived featured two new artworks from artists James Winnett and Matt Woodham.

James Winnett –

Lace Unarchived James Winnett

Photo credit: Julian Lister

This series of new work has been produced using twelve mid 20th century lace patterns, sourced from an architectural salvage yard in Glasgow and originally produced in Nottingham and Ayrshire. In some, water has been used to loosen the original pigments and extend the geometric designs across the paper. In others, gold has been added, highlighting certain motifs to shift notions of provenance, value and authenticity. Re-presenting the industrial artefact in this way, Winnett explores processes of historicisation while interrogating the interplay between industrial and artistic labour. James’ work for Lace Unarchived has been incredibly well-received by visitors. He believes the collection on show includes some curtain lace draughts from Nottingham, which may have travelled to Scotland when a number of curtain lace factories relocated there in the 20th century.

James Winnett is a Glasgow based artist who works primarily in public art, sculpture and video. Recent exhibitions and commissions include: The Capelrig Stones, East Renfrewshire Council, 2017; Settlement, Project Room Glasgow; Green Year Artist in Residence, Glasgow City Council, 2015-16; The Cuningar Stones, 2014-16; 100 Flowers Commission, New South Glasgow Hospitals, 2015; Year of Natural Scotland Artist in Residence, Cuningar Loop, 2013-14; Glasgow Life Visual Artist Award, 2013.

James’ work can be found here: www.axisweb.org/p/jameswinnett

 

Matt Woodham

Matt Woodham Lace Unarchived

Matt Woodham is an artist, designer and creative technologist with a background in psychology & neuroscience. Through his research, and fascination for knowledge gained from empirical evidence – he strives to uncover the systems and patterns underpinning our physical and natural worlds. His research often addresses the common dynamics between different systems, such as the transfer of signal, waves, energy and information.

With a focus on the aesthetic qualities of both digital and analogue mediums, he designs and builds experiences, products, installations and audio-visual content. He aims to adjust perceptions and communicate ideas, exploring solutions to complex social problems.

He believes that the interdisciplinary space between art, science and technology can provide the possibilities for inducing both wonderment and socio-cultural advancement. Using science as the ground, technology as the tool and art as the expression.

Matt Woodham Lace Unarchived

Lace Unarchived commissioned a sculptural video piece responding to the lace archive. Matt designed a curved cabinet for 24 CRT monitors which feature digitised archival items accompanied by fabricated and real stories behind them. Matt took photographs of items from the NTU Lace Archive, and from them created a dynamic work which has been a focus of much interest in the Lace Unarchived exhibition space.

Matt’s website is: www.mdoubl.eu

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