The Sunderland Indie presents an exhibition of new contemporary art works by seven Sunderland artists. An artistic response to the Coronavirus pandemic and Lockdown. Next Step is about resilience, optimism and patience. We will not be beaten. This is where we were and this is what we are doing about it!
Explore the exhibition and find out more about each artist below.
My work is informed by my interest in the Sublime and this is the theme which underpins my work. I am particularly interested in the Contemporary City, more specifically it is the despondent aspects of the city that are my focus.
The paintings exhibited in The Next Step exhibition represent the feelings of alienation felt by many during the Covid 19 pandemic, particularly those who are isolated in blocks of flats with no gardens to break the monotony. The feelings of imprisonment are real and illustrate the need for us to keep in touch with our fellow humans. Disappointed and In Darkness (both 47 x 33 inches) examine the feelings of confusion and turmoil that have descended on many during the pandemic. On the other hand, Big Night Out (29 x 24 inches) represents the contrasting feelings of imprisonment and the freedom that beckons us. The paintings I am exhibiting are abstract and are all acrylic on canvas.
I refer to Edmund Burke’s seminal work, Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful. Burke argued that the concept of the sublime suggested ugliness as an aesthetic quality as it was able to cause intense emotions as a pleasurable experience. I too am interpreting the notion of ugliness as an aesthetic quality, but in respect of the desolate city.
I obtained a BA and MA in Fine Art from University of Sunderland and have exhibited throughout the North East of England. I am honoured to be a part of Sunderland Indie and to be exploring this topic further as a part of The Next Step exhibition at Arts Centre, Washington.
Email: [email protected]
Website: denisedowdeswell.com (currently being updated)
I am a multidisciplinary contemporary artist. I have completed my studies at Sunderland University at the School of Fine Art and gained a Master Fine Art degree. I use a variety of media in production on my work. Many of them are conceptually based art films and installation art. Among varied art works can be seen a complex of development which includes sculpture, printing, collage, painting and photography, majority of times in their combinations while presented in my mixed and multimedia installations.
My main interests and aims are to creatively engage with the audience, while exploring different perceptual and psychological elements of human nature.Works on show are visual and often combined with elements of sound. Effects of such works produces a somewhat altered reality and triggers human senses and emotions, in this unique portraying and complexity of my intended messages to wider audience.
My recent body of work, reflecting the current world COVID 19 crisis, consists of paintings, collages, written word and installation art.
All of us as subjects with conscious drive and interests are linked to most of the concerns that had been currently induced. As part of my own learning, I observe intensely to see an inherently social construct that we live in. As artists, we carry the burden which comes with an opportunity and responsibility to provide social commentary on what matters in the world now. It is my belief that there can never be too much of empathy and kindness, offering some deep and meaningful connections and values.
Memory is at the heart of my work; it engages with emotions and raises concerns. My ideas originate from an interest in historical context including people and places, loss, absence and trace.
In the past I have made sense of my thinking by memorialising certain situations both in my own artwork and in my role as a participatory arts practitioner, for example by producing community project ‘Silent Voices’ to work with local community to memorialise 183 lost lives as a result of a tragedy in Sunderland.
Mortality, loss and absence reoccur inherently as ideas which I aim to project as a poignant message. I try to touch people in a direct way; it’s a way of speaking to people.
I am influenced by the powerful yet poetic way in which Christian Boltanski creates his autobiographical installations. I am interested in the spaces he creates generating a sense of hushed wonder and a poignant evocation of loss. The way in which he interprets his ideas to convey his concepts deeply resonate with my way of thinking.
One of my current concerns is in the spirituality of breath and this extends to recent investigations into fragility, including exploration of lung disease in relation to personal connection to this concept. My aim is to present my ideas in a poetic way which is both spiritual and evocative. By creating an atmospheric experience which echoes ethereal qualities, I aim to evoke an emotional response.
Fundamental to my practice is the essence of the materials I source; using found material combined with projection, light, shadow, movement and sound to create immersive installation are all powerful methods I explore to allure the viewer.
During lockdown I noticed a change, the absence of everyday noise; I began to notice natural and different sounds and became interested in collecting sounds and videos whilst responding to sound as well as absence of sound. This inspired me to write a poem ‘listen to the quiet’ which came from my own observations and thinking around the beautiful stillness.
Kath has been a textile artist for 25 years and originally focussed on rag rug making and teaching courses in adult education.
More experimental work emerged involving other textile techniques and the incorporation of recycled vintage fabrics and stitched items from the past, acknowledging the skills of generations of women.
Indeed, gender issues predominate in much of her work which has been shown in galleries and other venues throughout the North East since 2012. More recently, her work has taken on a more autobiographical focus related to childhood, family, ageing and sexuality.
She considers the personal effects of Lockdown and her current work:
‘ One of the negative aspects has been the loss of my textile classes which I enjoyed teaching enormously. This has also impacted upon my confidence. Older women are often ‘invisible’ to society. I had made a piece of work to reflect this just before Lockdown which will appear in the forthcoming exhibition ‘The Next Step’ at the Arts Centre Washington. It seems even more pertinent now as I haven’t been out much for 28 weeks!
My practise has always been torn between sculpture and photography. However, I became more interested in the process of using light to illuminate the structures I was creating and eventually used light and lenses as part of the works themselves so that they became self-illuminating sculptures and objects that effected their surroundings.
The artist as archetype is also key to the ethos of my work, bringing elements of different sciences together with the rudiment’s of alchemy, spiritualism and even shamanism.
‘The Alchemists Entomology Case’, deals with the idea of Darwinism and how some insects underwent a change in colour quickly due to the Industrial Revolution. Taking the idea that alchemy was the driving force of the sciences today, how would certain insects have adapted. Bees are associated with golden honey and perhaps moths would have taken on a bronze patina to blend with the colours produced in the Alchemists lab. This work became a catalyst for how my sculpture has evolved, using gilded bees, rusted wasps and bronze verdigris moths. I’ve found myself drawn to the symbolism associated with them, especially with ideas from across history to start a conversation about current issues.
During lockdown due to being incapacitated from an operation and then an accident, my isolation was eased not just by my family but thanks to working on a new sculpture. ‘The semiosis animist theology’, uses the symbolism of going from a dark red stream in bedded with flies and other bugs to a golden honey containing more lights and a slivered wasp and a gilded bee, symbolising the light at the end of the tunnel and a sense of hope.
My work is an accumulation of ideas, skills, and technique to explore the direction that my art demands. I have only one thing to do, be honest and follow the truth. Each step is the next step my intuition insists and each step is the sum of all the preceding steps.
This strand of exploration looks at “time” and the impossibility of measuring time, without some form of intervention. In cosmic terms, a thousand years becomes a second in the life span of homo sapiens. A child waiting for school to end will feel time drag. The universe has to be ordered with some sort of time measurer: a clock with which to compare the life span of a gnat to that of a star.
Waiting through lock-down time slows down but what exactly is it? We are doing time.
“Psychological time refers to a sense of the passage of “T” and temporal experiences related to succession, duration, simultaneity, pace and the order of perceived external and internal events. For example we might feel that a certain interval lasts longer than another or occurred before or after another.” *
So, let’s have some fun finding out!
*Philosophy and Psychology of Time – Studies in Brain and Mind 9
I’m a Fine Artist and Illustrator based in Newcastle. I like to make art inspired by Pre-Industrial Revolution Religious art. I like the art made before lenses and photographs started causing a lot of art look too much like reality. And I like religious art because it’s often rich in symbolism and fantastical imagery. I paint, sculpt, and draw in styles that veer between Abstraction and Neo-Surrealism.
We find ourselves today in the middle of a gender revolution. Gender norms are being questioned, and demolished. I turned to myths and symbols to explore a few ideas about gender. Myths are embedded throughout our culture, like fragments of old buildings used as building blocks within newer buildings. They’re still with us, though most of us don’t fully understand their significance. Mythical stories go through various changes, adapting to cultural and religious changes, and now I’m putting my own spin onto a few mythical themes in my own work.
I also wanted to explore our obsession with the way our bodies look. I know I’m not overly satisfied with mine. I found myself wondering why we place so much importance on the way we look these days, as we Facetune and filter selfies to share with strangers on the web. Our bodies are arguably just tools, but we insist on placing them upon pedestals.
I’ve struggled to complete a lot of art during lock-down, but I’ve scribbled out lots of ideas. I’ve planted plenty seeds of ideas in my sketchbooks, which are now growing into bigger things. I was starting to feel like I’d gone to seed of late, but then seeds are things to be valued. If you’ve got seeds you’ve got potential.