BACKLIT Gallery: Work In Progress Exhibition
The entirely student run Crop Up Gallery is working in collaboration with artists from Nottingham Trent and BACKLIT gallery to create an exhibition exploring the idea of what makes art ‘finished’ rather than just a ‘Work In Progress’. The exhibition features the work of 8 ambitious artists who have all interpreted the brief in different and innovative ways, with everything from sculpture to sound pieces, and fine art to photography.
The gallery is a piece of art in itself. BACKLIT is housed in an old warehouse that acts as its own exhibition of Nottingham’s industrial past. Its original looming arched windows work as natural spotlights on the different pieces of art and frames the whole gallery space, adding a new dimension to the artist’s work. The exhibition layout also acts as a natural pathway leading you from one artists to the next.
As you first walk in you are immediately drawn towards the sculptures by Conor Hurford which dominate the centre of the white-washed alcove. His pieces are inspired by nature, with the most striking being a cobalt blue, almost liquid-like, sculpture. Through the use of concrete and resin he manages to covey the simultaneous fluidity and endurance of nature. From there your eye is drawn back to the first artist, Ryan Heath, who specialises in fine art. There is a deceptive simplicity to his work which makes interesting use of empty space. As a result, there is a sense of fragility and intrigue which is reflected in how it is displayed using the walls, floors and everywhere in-between. You then find yourself making a 180 degree turn towards Sam Goddard’s area on the other side of the alcove. His woodwork canvases contrast effortlessly with the delicate illustrations he has created on top of them. There is an emphasis on the human form and the aging process. To that end he consciously chose to use natural materials in order to make the surface capable of rotting so that the artwork will change over time.
You are then led through a light-filled corridor which is lined with the works of Emily Simpson and Bethany Nugent. Your curiosity will be piqued by Emily’s playful word art which depicts a stream of consciousness that is never quite resolved. In contrast, Bethany uses more traditional techniques to capture distorted landscapes. She works with fog and soft light juxtaposed against darkness to create delicate and dream-like photos.
The day-dream continues with a multi-coloured sculpture which is suspended and spiralling through the open space behind you. Sarah Watts has produced a piece that manages to capture a sense of static movement and fluidity that makes you question the fine-line between fantasy and reality. The silhouette of the sculpture ushers you to towards the final two pieces by Clare Parr and Alasdair Ambrose. Both artists use sound and film recordings to represent their individual interpretations of what makes art ‘finished’. Clare creates a never-ending loop of film and sound to highlight the seductiveness of the habitual everyday and encourages you to interact with the art by providing headphones. Finally, Alasdair’s use of VHS analogue tape as the medium of artwork perfectly embodies Work In Progress. The film is reworking and altering the video footage with every play, making it an ever evolving installation.
The overall effect is thought-provoking and engaging. The exhibition questions what constitutes a final piece of work, when should art be displayed to the public, and is there any value in incomplete work? The public are invited to look at art and the creative process in a new light and investigate these questions for themselves. But in the same way that the art remains unfinished, all the questions remain unanswered and it continues to be a ‘Work In Progress’.