Thursday, November 18, 2010

Northern Art Pie


Last night we were lucky enough to get on a backstage tour of the Northern Art Prize, while they're still setting stuff up, thanks to the curator of Leeds City Art Gallery and Culture Vultures (who else?).

The shortlist is surprisingly good; the work on display feels like much more than what seems to pass as "art" these days, and although the exhibits were still being hung and positioned there was a bit of an excited ripple around the place when we were told - or discovered - little intricate pieces of the work that added a new layer. There is, for example, a bowl of sweets - rock - containing a poem that people can eat now or take away (but beware, rock is hygroscopic and will go soggy in your pocket!). A case of glass bottles which have, as labels, poems that indicate what the bottle originally contained (still contains? I forgot to ask). Some glass tubes that constantly play Rock, Paper, Scissors, which made me and others who knew about the RPS tournament at Interesting North chuckle. And a jaw-droppingly intricate piece made from painted jelly moulds and the tiny figures found on model railway platforms.


There are four artists, each with their own stories and backgrounds, and they'd very kindly given permission for photos to be taken for the evening; this did, of course, lead onto a discussion of rights in modern media and the debate got quite involved. It is obvious a new model of rights management needs to be brought into play, with the full consent of the artists. We don't want artists to have to become copyright lawyers in order to show their work, but in the minefield that it has become it is very hard to avoid. I'd quite like to have a chat to the artists just to see if they have a position on this, but of course it's part of a wider conversation that needs to start a ball rolling.

My favourite piece so far? Tricky to say as they're not all in position yet, but I love the work by Lubaina Himid; the whimsy and the stories it tells in micro and macro is fascinating and I look forwards to seeing the finished piece. Alec Finlay's pieces are adorable, and I do like the cabinet of remedies; again, I look forwards to seeing the finished exhibit.

The Northern Art Prize exhibit is on at the Leeds City Art Gallery from 26th November to February next year. Pop in, it's well worth a look. And the rest of the gallery is great too, especially the tiled hall where we followed the tour with the "northern art pies" competition.

Thanks to all involved! A fun event, and one I'd like to see more often. Perhaps this is the start of a sea-change in how galleries see citizen journalism...

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