‘Do Not Touch The Artwork’ an Exhibition curated by myself, Nick Rhodes and Kathryn Poole.
‘As long as the exhibition is socially distanced, you don’t invite any externals of the university to attend and you let people know not to touch the artwork, it will be fine.’
This was the advice we were given in regard to curating an exhibition at the PR1 Gallery. So here we are, advising you to ‘not touch the artwork’ to ‘socially distance’ and preferably not attend the exhibition unless you have a specific reason to be in the Victoria Building. The UK is now in its second lockdown of the year, so I think these will be easy arrangements to keep.
During the first UK lockdown, I was lucky enough to keep my job and work from home. This felt slightly absurd as a printmaking technician, someone who’s role revolves around the physicality of their place of work.
In some sense, my job is to be present within a space and help others navigate the strange world of cast iron presses and chemistry. However, the time away from the studio allowed us, as a team, to catch up on various admin jobs and plan for the future. More importantly, it gave us time to look at our colleague’s, friend’s and student’s artwork. I’m lucky in my job. It’s rare that I am not surrounded by dynamic and exciting artists.
Over the weeks and months of lockdown, we, as a team, would share websites and images. There were daily updates on exciting projects popping up in our group chat, partly to motivate each other and partly to try and be a part of the global community of creatives. It was a lifeline; the constant updates of projects and creativity. We loved seeing how creative are networks were.
During the first lockdown I was lucky enough to take part in the Zero Hour Residency, hosted by We Belong Here and meet the amazing movement artist Wendy Yu. We developed a project entitled ‘Interrupting Solitude’ where we explored our connections and desire for intimacy, whilst I was in Preston, UK and she was in Berlin, Germany. I had the pleasure of collaborating with her again for this exhibition. With Wendy now based in Sydney, Australia we created the piece ‘Cannot Touch 16993’; a reference to our new distance of 19663km between us and both of our embodied practices. This new piece is an extension of the residency and the beginning of a new body of work.
So, on a drab October morning when Kathryn and I were finally back in the PR1 Gallery, we bumped into Tania Callagher, the PR1 Gallery manager. She asked if we would like to curate an exhibition at short notice.
It seemed the perfect opportunity; we would get to see the work we had been coveting online – in the flesh. It has been over a year since we had shown in the gallery with Perceptions and we were excited to select, curate and hang a physical show
We are so pleased to exhibit work by:
‘Soda Syphon’, ‘Joan Harrison’ and ‘What You Looking At?’
Parkinson’s fineliner drawings on paper are part of a series based on the Avenham Estate, Preston. ‘Joan Harrison’ was selected and shown as part of the Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing prize in London, 2019.
‘Some of the stories are light and funny, others troublesome and at times quite sinister, many of the images link together and form narratives about my life and the lives of others.‘ – Mark E Parkinson
Simpson’s beautiful abstract acrylic paintings measure 90 x 90cm and were shortlisted for the 2020 John Moors painting prize.
‘The paintings seem innocent but are the result of desperate fantasies in needing to accept what has gone. It is work that needed to be made after personal experiences of loss and bereavement. The product or the activity could be considered the medicine to those experiences, the antidote.’ – Jayne Simpson
‘Attic’ and ‘The Greenhouse’
Allen is a second-year Illustration student who has found a passion for etching. As a team, we love seeing his work progress and his new series of works, featuring hand-cut and layered prints, are just gorgeous.
Rhodes shows a selection of screenprints, etching and relief prints made during his time at the University of Central Lancashire as our resident screenprinting technician.
“I consider it my job as an artist to look at the world and report back with visual inspiration, whether it be for clients work or my own artwork. It gives me a great sense of purpose to look for beauty out there and to share it. Whether it be natural or the man-made world. A big part of my work in Switchopen is to deliver work like it’s my last. It’s a drive I have always had, to listen, focus and deliver’ – Nick Rhodes
Stuart heads the BA and MA Illustration courses at the University of Central Lancashire and has a passion for drawing and printmaking. Her illustrations of daily life have a certain ease which is irresistible.
Healey is our team’s resident technology guru, but he also has a passion for intricate biro doodles. We love seeing what he can produce with a simple set of pens and paper.
Poole is a key part of the printmaking team and focuses on drawing, lithography and etching. She is dedicated to making memorials for the forgotten and her most recent watercolours are divine.
‘Focusing on documenting the loss and death that occur in unnoticed places, she memorialises dead animals found in her commute between Preston and Southport with drawings, etchings and lithographs.’ – Kathryn Poole
Jane Elizabeth Bennett
Wendy Yu and I have collaborated for the first time after meeting on the Zero Hour Residency. Yu is now situated in Sydney, Australia whilst I am still in the UK. We now have 16993km between us but are still exploring ways to connect and collaborate.
For this piece, I made three cross span folds which Yu responded to through movement. Her choreography is projected onto the folded paper, giving us an ephemeral connection in the PR1 Gallery. Her body is distorted by the paper and my objects are given a new context through her body. We cannot touch, but we can share a visual methodology.
By the time this blog is published and the exhibition is open at the pr1 gallery, the UK will be in its second full lockdown. We seem to have come full circle.
From our printmaking team seeing and sharing work online, craving to see it live, hanging the show and then locking it down for the foreseeable future, now we will be curating it again, this time on a digital platform. (Note to Boris Johnson – the creatives are already trained in ‘cyber’). Over the coming weeks, providing that we still have access to the gallery, we will be filming and photographing the exhibition for your home viewing pleasure. We hope that we can pass on some of the excitement that we feel about live art to you at home.
Please. Remember. ‘DO NOT TOUCH THE ARTWORK’.