Last week took me to Yorkshire to exhibit at the South Square Gallery. Located in Thornton on the outskirts of Bradford, South Square is housed in a Grade II listed building that once formed a group of stone masons’ cottages and now provides gallery space, a small shop, various studios and an excellent vegetarian café.
Curator Elizabeth Holdsworth selected 11 artists from approximately 90 who had responded to their open call. Entitled Abort, Retry, Fail? (in reference to the infuriating MS Dos error message that essentially announced your work was about to be lost) the show explores ideas of experimenting, repetition and trialling within artistic practice and shows a selection of both 2D and 3D work from artists at varying stages of their careers.
This was my first experience of application-writing, and I was delighted to be accepted. The logistics of transporting the Tool Museum 270 miles in my old car consumed me for a time, until I settled on Plan B: the Tool Roll. I decided on 21 pieces, which allowed me to show 3 each of the 7 functions I’ve been working with: poke, hit, scoop, brush, rake, cut, look. In reference to the nature of the exhibition, I included early tests and the latest thorn-rake; selecting a sample of almost everything that had come between.
ARF is located in the first floor gallery, comprised of 2 adjoining rooms with whitewashed brick walls, exposed beams and wooden floors. Last weekend sunlight poured in through the windows, framing glorious autumn colours beyond. At the top of the stairs are Dan Sharp’s photographs of his attempt to retain his childhood, opposite Jenny Core’s Match and David Knowles’ Leaflet Drop. Claire Harbottle’s film Nailing Jelly plays on the left, across the gallery are photographs by Mark McCullough, and Lisa Peachey’s blind spot images (completed by all 11 artists) lead through to the second room.
Lawrence Daley’s installation will discover if moisture drawn from the gallery during the show can keep a plant alive, and Lisa Peachey’s film continues to explore the sense of sight. In the corner, Mark McCullough’s chair image explores the flattening qualities of photography opposite a long shelf of Chris Lillywhite’s maquettes, with the Tool Roll between. Text-based works by Ingrid Berthon-Moine and Joanna Aldoori complete the show, both of which are included in the Risograph-printed catalogue by Jay Cover at Nous Vous.
South Square is a wonderful resource which is engaging local audiences and providing an important space for emerging work. The opening on Friday night saw a lively and diverse crowd of about 200 eager visitors who enjoyed the variety and were generous with their feedback. The show is already a success for me; it has taken me into new territory, and provided great encouragement to develop my practice. And having expected to spend most of the weekend pottering about on my own, I even found myself dropped into a bubble of great company and much laughter. I am grateful to all at South Square, but especially Curator Elizabeth Holdsworth and Programme Manager David Knowles for the unfailing energy and enthusiasm they put into this and every project.
Abort, Retry, Fail? is open 12-3pm Tuesday to Sunday (and by appointment) until 22 December. See website for details.