Today was the first day of the 2017 edition of the Festival of Thrift at Kirkleatham and so also the first exhibition day (of many) for the Latest Edition project.
It has been a great project to be involved with, as one of the mentor artists and I was really pleased to see the reaction from visitors to the work of all six artists involved. The group has worked closely together over the last two months, sharing our research and ideas for the exhibition during studio visits and site visits to the various exhibition venues and it so it is really gratifying to see how well the exhibition has come together.
It is a diverse range of works on show, including ceramics, printmaking, wall drawing, sculpture and performance and it tackles a broad range of subject matter to offer a broad and provocative view of issues relevant to the region and beyond.
Diane Watson's new work raises questions about the growing global problem we have with plastic, through a local lens. Throughout the weekend Diane is painstakingly archiving the many thousands of plastic beach 'finds' she has collected from North East Beaches over the last six months.
This ever growing list of items together with the accompanying collection of images, will provide Diane with plenty of visual material to develop future digital prints and images to compliment the impressive 'One Ton' print on show here. Her work has certainly been a provocative part of the exhibition and really got visitors talking.
Alex Sickling's new work, involves a collection of new ceramic objects including hanging planters along with some of her trademark 'wonky' pots, which have been inspired by the history of the Kirkleatham site. Her work has been really popular amongst visitors who love her unique approach to illustration and making.
It has been great to see the journey that Carol Devey Haughton has been on through developing her new work for Latest Edition. Carol has pursued an ambitious plan to produce a large scale textile work that incorporates delicate painted and sewn elements. Her recycled sail carries images of industry and nature that reflect a strong desire to pick out and celebrate the natural and industrial beauty at the heart of the region.
Becki Harper has also used the project to develop an ambitious new large scale work. Her sculptural installation for the exhibition incorporates dozens of hand made ceramic bees, suspended in front of a wall drawing. This is a really successful piece of work, which draws on Becki's interest in the bee population as a critical part of the ecosystem, whilst giving her the chance to experiment with both materials and scale.
Theresa Easton's work brings together printmaking and sculptural elements to create a detailed and compelling piece. 'Thrifty Tips' offered to Theresa at a previous Festival of Thrift have been repurposed here and sit amongst found images which relate to the history and politics of the region. Visitors to the exhibition really seemed to enjoy the playful use of recycled materials, images and text.
My own contribution to the exhibition, titled Spooky Action at a Distance, has had a really nice (if slightly mixed) reaction from visitors. It has been great to watch people interacting with the work and try to make sense of it. It is an experimental new work for me and it has certainly been a challenging project to bring together many elements including custom laser cut components, micro motors, arduino controllers and custom printed flags. It's definitely not everyone's cup of tea but I look forward to more conversations about the work tomorrow and throughout the touring exhibition next year.