LACE: At a Distance
Congratulations to Fine Artists & Alumnae Bethany Hunton, Charlie Love, Amy Heald and Annabel Collins, on their joint collective’s exhibition: LACE: At a Distance. Which opened last week at WetDovetail art space in the Hill St. Shopping Centre in Middlesbrough. WetDovetail is a collaborative virtual and physical gallery project, comprised of two arts organisations, WET Productions and Dovetail Joints from the North East of England.
This is one of the first shows from their female led artist group Lace Collective since graduating this year. All artists are from and based around the North East and Yorkshire and met whilst studying at The Northern School of Art, where they formed their collective in second year. This show explores the difficulties of isolation and being removed from a close creative community after leaving university.
We spoke to Lace Collective to find out more about the show and projects they’re working on, read on to find out more:
Tell us about your exhibition LACE: At a Distance.
This exhibition considers place and connection. LACE have lived and worked around each other for the previous three years, however recently these circumstances have changed. This exhibition talks of the frustration and isolation of making work removed from this exchange of creativity. Unlike the conditions of lockdown, in which these artists studied and had the opportunity to frequently communicate with one another, creating opportunity for this dialogue comes less frequently. The exhibition considers the creative influence which we take for granted in these structures and explores the independent development of the individual within the collective.
Can you describe the works you will be showing in the exhibition?
AC: For this exhibition I will be presenting a new series of works alongside some old pieces. My new work is a six piece multimedia series which will be spread out through the space around some scraps of old work to represent a movement from being able to focus on my work full time to now finding myself spread thin in terms of being creative.
AH: The work that I have used for this exhibition comes from my fascination with representing pubs in the form of painting. The pieces in particular are called, ‘’The Shades – Lynn Street View’ and ‘’The Shades – Church Street View’’, a particular pub that fascinated me during my degree. I became interested in the grandeur certain pubs had, and in my painting I was interested in breaking down that grandeur using colour theory, and how contrasting colours can work to increase or decrease depth in the structure, as well as build the structure up overall.
BH: The work I have created for this exhibition features materials traditionally used in brutalist architecture. Brutalism features an emphasis on materials, textures and construction, and went by the idea of “seeing the materials for what they are”. The inspiration behind this work was the recent demolition of the Dorman Long Tower in Middlesbrough – a local example of brutalist architecture. The installation named ‘An Ode to Brutalism’ features a floor structure made from raw steel emulating steel girders used in the foundations of construction, as well as a concrete brick form based on the plinth showcasing the materials natural qualities. As well as these pieces I will also be showing some photographs I created over lockdown whilst studying for my degree from home.
CL: My work includes some pieces made during my time at university and work I have made in a much quieter environment in comparison to the studio. It’s interesting to see the contrast in these works, my piece made in the studio has much more energy than the work made in an external setting.
Tell us about working with WetDovetail and collaborating on this exhibition?
It has been such a great opportunity for us to have worked with WetDovetail on this exhibition; its always refreshing meeting new creatives. For this show we have utilised an empty shop which in itself has been an insightful experience, we have had to utilise the space carefully and it has been so rewarding to see the environment transform. We feel that as a collective this exhibition has brought us closer together.
Tell us about the LACE collective’s aims & why you formed?
LACE formed during our time studying at The Northern School of Art. We are a collective of women artists working in the North East. We are driven by different mediums but are bound by our femininity and our identity as women. Our group is so interesting because we come from very different backgrounds. Our strong sense of individuality is clear within our own work. The work ranges from: photography, sculpture, installation and painting as well as performative and collaborative pieces.
Did you all meet at university?
We all met during our time at The Northern School of Art, the collective formed during our second year of our degree.
What are your collective’s next steps?
As we’re all based in different towns around the North East and Yorkshire at the moment we’re focusing on our own practices and studies. However, when opportunities arise for us as a collective we will always find ways to make it work. Despite the fact we’re not making work in the studio together anymore, we’re still connected through this collective which brings us all back together now and again.
Tell us about your experience studying at the Northern School of Art, how was it special to you?
AC: I found that my experience at the NSOA was one I know I would not have had anywhere else. It was the most positive environment to be in thanks to the staff and my peers. I absolutely think the people you meet during your time at NSOA make it so special. As well as this, the facilities and expertise of the staff mean the courses are enjoyable and rewarding.
AH: My experience at the Northern School of Art helped me shape who I am. In this time I gained long lasting friendships, not just on my own Course Fine Art, but throughout the school as well. Meeting these friends helped me get through school as well as shape my work. I was open to a wider variation of ideas and inspirations. The community in the Northern School of art was smaller than other universities, but I saw this as a positive as it made the community in the university closer connected as well as more concentrated.
BH: My experience at The Northern School of Art was extremely beneficial and important to me. The people I met during my time studying have made impacts on my life forever and I’m so grateful for that. The staff are remarkable and their experience within the creative sector is unmatched – I wouldn’t have gained the knowledge and opportunities I’ve had if it wasn’t for them.
CL: My time at The Northern School of Art was valuable. I had the opportunity to connect with other creatives in the area which I don’t feel I would have done at a different university. Living and studying in such a connected creative community was really rewarding for me. After coming to a much bigger university I have realised that this was something I took for granted at the time.
Can you share info on any other projects you are working individually on that you would like to mention?
AC: I have just participated in an exhibition with Durham University’s Summer in the City Arts Festival entitled ‘Veiled Women: What Does Feminism Mean to You?’. This was my first project after graduating and it was a great opportunity to find the time to make work again. The curator, Elle Anderton, was extremely helpful throughout the whole process and it was a project I was really excited to take part in. Alongside this as LACE we will be featuring in a show at Pineapple Black in the coming weeks curated by Charlie!
AH: As well as Annabell Collins, I have also participated in Durham University’s Summer in the City Arts Festival called, ‘’Veiled Women: What Does Feminism Mean to You?’’. I was also lucky enough to be a part of Middlesbrough Art Weekenders 2021 Festival, as a part of The Northern Graduate Award. Other Projects I have going on are a show at Pineapple Black named ’Untitled’, an exhibition that looks at the importance of a title of work as well as the work. Personally, I have just begun my Masters in Fine Art at Leeds Beckett university. This was something that I felt was important for me to do. I have loved making connections and friends in the area of Teesside but I have also grown up in this area, and throughout my degree I kept feeling like I needed to break away from my comfort zone. This experience has shoved me into the deeper end, and being on my own has encouraged me to make new connections, visit local galleries and has caused a shift of interest in my work.
BH: I was recently awarded The Tunnel Gallery Commission 2021 as part of the Celebrating Hidden Middlesbrough project. This resulted in the installation ‘Penumbra’ 2021 which is currently on display in The Tunnel Gallery (pedestrian underpass of Middlesbrough Train Station). It explores the hidden narrative of the ornate, elliptical railway station roof – designed by British architect William Peachey, that was once there before it’s inevitable removal due to severe damage during a German air raid in 1942. As well as this I am currently making work for exhibitions at Redcar Palace and Pineapple Black in the coming weeks.
CL: Currently I am studying Art and Cultural Management at Sheffield Hallam University. This course is all about looking into issues impacting the cultural sector; culture wars, funding, etc. It’s something all creatives trying to work in the sector should consider.
Any advice for future creatives/prospective MA students?
AC: My advice would be to make the most of every minute you have in the studio! I found that going in for my course even on days I was not timetabled allowed me to make the most of my study and I wish I had been in for even longer than I had been. Following graduation if you do not go onto a residency or MA like myself you really struggle to find the time to make work and I miss the times I could focus solely on being creative.
AH: I would encourage students to take part in the local creative community as well as taking notice of the time spent during university. Before you know it the three years are over. I wish I could do it again. I would also take as much time as you can, whilst you have the spare time during university to do something creative, because it becomes a lot harder when you graduate. Being a part of the local creative community can also be very gratifying, even just visiting local shows every now and then.
BH: Look into and visit local art events and exhibitions. There are lots of artist led galleries in the North East and the amazing people that run them want to support fellow creatives. Also keep making work no matter how big or small. Savour every minute of university and take advantage of the professional expertise of lecturers and supervisors.
CL: Go to as many shows as you can and talk to people. You don’t get anywhere on your own. And finish your deadlines a week early!
You can catch up with Lace Collective on Instagram: @lace.collective
Find out more about the artists here:
Amy Heald: Instagram @amymannfa_ / Website – amyhealdart.com
Annabel Collins: Instagram @belle_ah
Bethany Hunton: Instagram @bethanyhuntonfa / Website www.bethanyhunton.co.uk
Charlie Love: Instagram –@charlielove_8
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