Friday, 20 December 2013

Celebrating 20 years: Highlights of 2013 at East Street Arts

With 2014 almost upon us, Leeds Art Scene invited East Street Arts to share its highlights of the past year.

2013 has been a busy one at East Street Arts. It marked the 20th anniversary of the organisation, which was set up by Jon Wakeman and Karen Watson at East Street Mills in 1993.

To celebrate this landmark year, Leeds-based designers Thompson Brand Partners created a new brand identity, complete with a sparkling website that will be launched in the coming months.

East Street Arts is now the largest charitable provider of affordable workspace for artists outside of London, and a new permanent studio site was launched at Gateshead Old Town Hall, in partnership with Sage Gateshead in 2013.

In Situ spaces, including sites in Wrexham, Pontefract, Barnsley and even Hornsea, have created studios, exhibitions, events and pop-up galleries in locations across the country, culminating in a BBC feature last month ‘The Creative Boom in Empty Buildings’.

Warren Street, one of our temporary spaces in a former lighting showroom in Central London, hosted an array of exhibitions of members’ work and a group show with NY-based Imagination in Space.

As part of the exchange members exhibited work with Test Space, turning a working architect’s office into a temporary art gallery and shop for a one week pop-up on the Lower East Side.

Colony, Anarch’s 16 day programme based on the letters of Gordon Matta-Clark, features a commission by Andrew T Cross and is currently open at Warren Street until the 20th December.

In October, the annual Open Studios event took place at locations across the North.

East Street Arts commissioned the team at Mexico to curate an exhibition from members’ work at Union 105 in Chapeltown. And events took place at various sites over the weekend

Juliana’s Bike – a festival of art and cycling - was held during the summer in Leeds. Four times BAFTA nominated Blast Theory are world renowned as pioneers of interactive art and immersive theatre, they brought their Rider Spoke project to Patrick Studios encouraging cyclists to discover the secrets and confessions of the city’s streets.

As part of the city’s preparations for 2014’s Tour de France, Juliana’s Bike formed part of the Grand Départ Cultural Festival.

This year also saw the launch of the first specialist ceramic facility in Leeds.

Based at East Street Arts’ Barkston House studio in Holbeck, eight studios spaces have been developed with a functioning classroom and a separate kiln room.

Facilities include three kilns, a pug mill, an electric wheel, washout sinks, purpose-built mobile drying storage, and ‘hot benching’ for short-term firings/projects.

Coming up next year, Delta, East Street Arts’ new International Residency and Exchange Programme, begins with a residency by French artists Arnaud Verley and Philémon « Société Volatile ».

They are developing a sculptural work inspired by the concept of a seer, with sound recordings from the local area as part of their installation.

Another major project for 2014 is the launch of the first Live/Work space for artists in Leeds.

Based in Beeston, it aims to provide affordable creative live/work space, new opportunities for artists, and will also support East Street Arts’ community engagement programme.

If you are interested in finding out more about East Street Arts, or would like to become a member of our community, visit:

Monday, 16 December 2013

Alfred Drury to be shown at Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery

The work of Alfred Drury, one of the leading sculptors of the late-Victorian and Edwardian periods, will be on display at the Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery from January 15, 2014.

Famed for his bronze nude light bearer statues on City Square, the exhibition will review the art and life of Alfred Drury RA (1856-1944), and will examine his role in the New Sculpture movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Alfred Drury, The Age of Innocence, (1897)

Included within the exhibition will be some of Drury’s most important, smaller-scale, sculptural works, including Griselda, The Age of Innocence and Lilith.

Alongside sculptural works by Alfred Drury, the exhibition will display paintings and medals by the artist, and also documents and photographs from the period.

The exhibition will also include works by Aimé Jules Dalou, Auguste Rodin, Lord Leighton, and Alfred Stevens.

Alfred Drury and the New Sculpture will be on display at The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery from January 15 to April 13. The gallery is open to the public, Monday – Friday, 10am – 5pm.


Friday, 13 December 2013

Senses and Sculpture: Highlights of 2013 at the Henry Moore Institute

With 2013 coming to an end, Leeds Art Scene invited the Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, to share its highlights of the past year.

This year’s program at the Henry Moore Institute has not only been a spectacular treat for the eyes, but for all the senses.

At the beginning of 2013, visitors saw the first solo UK institutional exhibition dedicated to Robert Filliou (1926-87), The Institute of Endless Possibilities.

During the exhibition, the Institute restaged a game called ‘Leeds’ that was first orchestrated by Filliou at Leeds College of Art in 1969.

The game involves two blindfolded card players and a surrounding audience that guides each player through their moves – throughout the game the players must work together with the spectators and trust their judgment.

This summer during Indifferent Matter: From Object to Sculpture, audiences were greeted by Felix Gonzalez-Torres’s (1957-96) gleaming field of silver-wrapped sweets, “Untitled’ (Placebo)’, and Andy Warhol’s (1928-87) ‘Silver Clouds’.

Visitors were invited to consume the pineapple-flavoured sweets and throughout the course of the exhibition the Institute was tasked with returning the sculpture to its ideal mass each day.

Similarly, the Institute needed to maintain ‘Silver Clouds’, which involved a set of strategically placed fans and numerous half-filled helium balloons. Often a balloon slowly floating around the gallery space would drop out of circulation and would sink to the floor - in which case an information assistant would re-launch the rogue balloon back up towards the ceiling.

Last week the Institute ignited a flare sculpture by Dennis Oppenheim (1938-2011) entitled ‘Narrow Mind’.

Sounds, smells and smoke filled the atmosphere as the flares burned on top of the steps outside the building. The spent flares were then removed from their blackened wooden frames and hung on the wall of the Institute’s reception.

The event was one of three that will take place during Thought Collision Factories, an exhibition that explores Oppenheim’s use of fireworks, flares and machines as sculptural materials.

Every day at 12 noon the machines are switched on and visitors can experience them running for a short period of time. One machine is a launching pad for fireworks and the other involves candy floss - both works produce processes rather than products.

Dennis Oppenheim: Thought Collision Factories is paired with Stephen Cripps: Pyrotechnic Sculptor in the Upper Sculpture Study Gallery, and Jean Tinguely: 'Spiral' (1965) in Gallery 4 until January 5, 2014. The exhibition celebrates the 2013 acquisition of Stephen Cripps’ archive for the Henry Moore Institute and can been viewed until February 16, 2014.

What do you think was the highlight at the Henry Moore Institute this year? Please leave your comments below.

New exhibition of Workers' Education Association student art

Students who attend Workers’ Educational Association classes across Leeds will be exhibiting their work at Leeds Central Library from December 17 to January 14.

Community centre members who would not normally get the opportunity to exhibit their art and craft work are being supported by volunteers at Leeds Metropolitan University and the WEA who are helping to hang and curate the work.

The celebration launch will be at 2pm on December 17. All are welcome, but if you wish to attend the launch, please ring Karen at WEA on 0113 245 3304 to book as places are limited. Light refreshments will be served.

WEA tutor Paul Digby, who has been a practising artist for over sixteen years and teaching for over ten said: “I welcome the opportunity for students to exhibit their work. I am proud of Leeds as a city that demonstrates its interest in all kind of art, not just mainstream.

“The exhibition includes paintings, drawings, sculpture and ceramics, and demonstrates the difference and diversity that WEA supports within Adult Community Education.

“Being absorbed in painting a canvas helps us let go of our worldly concerns for at least the space of the class. Art and craft classes also help banish social isolation as going to a group can give everyone a sense of belonging to something bigger than themselves.”

WEA organiser Christine Sharman, said: “art classes develop creativity. This can be written into CVs as a further skill.

“Employers often look for this, as imaginative people make great team members – people who can see inventive solutions, where others cannot.

“Additionally art classes give the students all kinds of future possibilities, gained through the understanding of civilisations, which helps work towards a peaceful, inclusive society.”

All works in the exhibition are for sale.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Mind your language - artists and the media

by Jon Cronshaw

Why do some artists receive good media coverage while others are completely ignored?

Jon Cronshaw explains why getting coverage in the press has nothing to do with talent or quality.

Artists often complain that their work is overlooked or ignored by the mainstream media – there is a very simple reason for this: artists need to mind their language.

Over the past few years I've been working as a freelance journalist, writing arts and culture pieces for a variety of publications including national and regional newspapers.

Being a journalist isn't the easiest job in the world – there's always a lot to get done and not enough time to do it.

Artists can help journalists, and moreover themselves, by empathising with the pressures that journalists are under.

So if your innovative and ground-breaking exhibition gets ignored, but the local watercolour society get a double-page feature piece, you have to ask yourself why.

The simple fact is that watercolours of ducks and trees are easier to explain than something which is more philosophical or obscure.

This is where the artist can help – if they are clear, concise and avoid art speak, they may be in with a chance of getting their work featured.

It's a simple case of knowing your audience – not everyone went to art school, and most journalists don't know what words like 'architectonic', 'performative' and 'metanarrative' mean, and they probably don't have time to find out.

Imagine you're trying to explain your work to a child – that's probably not a bad starting point.

Have you had success dealing with the media? Leave comments below to share your experiences.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

The Hepworth celebrates its one millionth visitor

The Hepworth Wakefield welcomed its millionth visitor today, just two and a half years since the gallery opened to the public.

The millionth visitor, Pauline Mackiewicz, from Sydney, New South Wales, Australia was over 10,000 miles away from home when Cllr Peter Box, Leader of Wakefield Council and Simon Wallis, Director of The Hepworth Wakefield congratulated her as the millionth visitor just before 11.30am.

Pauline received limited edition prints, an exclusive Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle Experience, including tours at all four venues (Henry Moore Institute, Leeds Art Gallery, The Hepworth Wakefield and Yorkshire Sculpture Park), a Yorkshire hamper and an overnight stay in a top Leeds hotel.

Frances Quinn, winner of The Great British Bake Off 2013, helped the gallery to celebrate the arrival of its millionth visitor with a special bake. Visitors tucked into the unique taste sensation based on millionaire’s shortbread, inspired by the art of Barbara Hepworth.

The Hepworth Wakefield’s one millionth visitor, Pauline Mackiewicz said: ”I feel very privileged to be chosen as the millionth visitor, it was so unexpected and a little overwhelming.

“It’s my first visit to the gallery and what a stunning building it is. I have loved seeing the Hepworth plasters and that amazing view over the weir.

“And thanks to my friends from London and Wakefield who brought me here today.”

Since opening in May 2011, The Hepworth Wakefield has exceeded expectations, achieving its original annual target of 150,000 visitors per year in the first five weeks of opening. As well as exceeding visitor targets, the gallery has generated nearly £16m for the local economy and played an important part in the regeneration of Wakefield Waterfront and putting Wakefield on the international map.

Simon Wallis, Director of The Hepworth Wakefield said: “Reaching the one million milestone is a very special moment for the whole of the team, our volunteers and supporters.

“It’s wonderful to see the gallery celebrating this landmark after only two and a half years. And of course, our congratulations to Pauline for being our special millionth visitor.”

The gallery will continue its week-long celebrations until December 8, with surprise visitor giveaways to mark the occasion and thank visitors for their continued support. These include limited edition prints, posters and goody bags to free gallery membership, afternoon tea in the Café Bar or even a private tour of the gallery with friends and family.

What do you think of the Hepworth Wakefield? Leave your comments below.

Pictures during the week-long celebrations will be posted on the gallery’s new Instagram site:


Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Tom Price set for Sculpture Park exhibition

An exhibition of sculpture, animation and work on paper by British artist Tom Price will be on display at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park from January 4 to April 27, 2014.

Inspired by public observation, magazine images and historic sculpture, Price is rapidly establishing a strong reputation for his mastery of traditional techniques, his representation of contemporary subject matter and his consideration of identity.

The artist uses bronze to depict composite portraits of ‘the man in the street’.

An in-conversation event between the artist and Melissa Hamnett, Sculpture Curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum, accompanies the exhibition in spring 2014.


Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Behind the mask of Mr Faceless - Lee Coleman at Art's Cafe

by Jon Cronshaw

Scunthorpe-based artist Lee Coleman has channelled his responses to his challenging day job into his work. Jon Cronshaw spoke to him.

Best known for his trademark character Mr Faceless, Lee Coleman’s latest exhibition at Art's Cafe, Leeds, is a fascinating one man show that displays a thought-provoking series of images.

Lee Coleman

But the Scunthorpe-based artist also earns his living as a full-time paramedic – and it was after a traumatic event on the job that he came up with the idea of Mr Faceless.

“I had to give a lady the unfortunate news one day that I couldn’t revive her husband – and obviously that news is very devastating. It’s a powerful emotion that people go through when dealing with a loss like that,” says Coleman.

“I wondered if I could get that level of emotion onto a sheet of paper without showing a facial expression – could you express it with body language and location?

“And that’s where the idea of Mr Faceless came in.

"I came home and started doodling, and asked myself if I could do it – if I could start using emotional settings and scenarios," he says.

"It’s amazing that something so unfortunate for a patient has blossomed into something visual. Mr Faceless is part of me really.”

Although Coleman was not formally trained at an art college or university, he honed his craft for over 20 years by producing caricatures for family and friends.

He grew tired of this, and gave up on drawing until he felt that he had something meaningful to say.

“If you have a passion for something artistic, whether it’s cooking, music, art, or whatever it is, you eventually evolve and grow and start to challenge yourself – it’s been more organic than anything,” he says.

Once he opened himself up to dealing with emotional subjects and drawing on his working life, Coleman became more than a caricaturist – he became an artist.

“Being a paramedic, we see such an array of colourful characters and scenarios that you can’t help but absorb it really," says Coleman.

"As an artist, a lot of your work ends up being autobiographical because it’s part of your soul. A lot of the things I experience can sneak their way in without you really knowing it sometimes.
 “I want people to go away and think about what they’ve seen. I really want people to be affected by it. I want it to stop people in their tracks and think ‘bloomin’ heck, that really makes me think’. That’s all that matters to me.”

Coleman explained that having an outlet for expression has been necessary for dealing with difficulties he faces on a day-to-day basis.

“Like any job, you have good and bad days, but my bad day is unfortunately that somebody might have lost their life in quite a traumatic way – and that does affect you," says Coleman.

"So when you come home, it’s good to be able to channel that energy – I don’t drink, I don’t smoke – 
I play guitar, or I produce artwork.

“It’s definitely therapeutic – it’s an emotionally lifting experience when you produce artworks out of something that’s quite awful.”

Coleman has worked for East Midlands Ambulance Service for over a decade and a state registered paramedic for almost seven years. However, he has no intention of giving up the day job to become a full-time artist.

“It’s the best job in the world – it’s very challenging and very rewarding," says Coleman.

"It can break your heart but it can make you smile.”

Have you been to the exhibition? What do you think? Leave comments below.

Lee Coleman's work is currently on display at Art's Cafe, Leeds.