The exhibition by the Material Voice collective at Kelham Island Museum has been a great success, with over 150 people attending the opening and many more visiting. Myself and the six other women artists from the collective have been delighted by the response from museum visitors, other artists and reviewers.
I presented ‘Work Life Balance’, a work in two parts; a 1.6m sculpture placed amongst the machinery and noise of one of the museum’s workshop displays, and an installation of nearly 200 table knives throughout the reconstruction of a 1916 kitchen.
It was fascinating researching in the museum’s stores and collection and an invigorating experience having such a powerful context to respond to and exhibit work.
We then applied successfully for funding from Arts Council England for our first exhibition which is in partnership with Kelham Island Museum in Sheffield simt.co.uk/kelham-island-museum
From 12 – 29 September 2019, sculptural works by artists from the Material Voice collective will be shown amongst the displays at Kelham Island Museum.
How do the resonances of Sheffield’s material history manifest themselves in the globalised and digital world of the 21st century? How might the voices of women contemporary artists working in Sheffield be understood through explorations and readings of the power of materials to convey aspects of the city’s past, present and future?
Material Voice have responded to artefacts and stories from the Museum’s displays and collections by making sculptural works that give new perspectives and interpretations.
Text on cushions written by women from the Loudspeaker programme at Nottingham Contemporary.
I deliver the Loudspeaker programme and facilitated the women who are currently attending in producing this text for gallery cushions for ‘Still I Rise: Feminisms, Gender, Resistance’. The exhibition runs until 27th January 2019.
‘We are a wide variety of women from different walks of life. We come to weekly workshops to create and interpret art, taking steps to be stronger more resilient women.
To create this work we all thought of words we could identify with, which we pooled. The words were randomly given out and we worked together to put them into shared observations.’ Gallery label
‘We’ve got our work in the museum. It’s weird. There’s proper artists and then us. We are just basic everyday people. This is giving us a voice, not just the artists’. Loudspeaker participant.
The Loudspeaker programme is delivered as part of the Opportunity and Change project which is funded by the European Social Fund and the National Lottery, through the Big Lottery Fund.
One aspect of making sculpture is working with the physicality of materials, using the assets of the materials one chooses as a language. This can make sculptors obsessive about gathering materials that may become a new adjective or verb.
As an artist who also facilitates others in making sculpture, I am constantly looking for equivalent materials to those used by ‘professional’ sculptors that can be used safely, without having a high level of skill and yet have an immediacy of presence and three-dimensionality. I often find these materials in DIY and trade shops or on eBay.
‘Making a promise’ is a kind of catalogue of some of the materials I have amassed, showing a range of different types and their abilities to be manipulated simply or not. It shows the promise these materials have to become tangible metaphors.
I made a series of small sculpture where I combined two different materials. Having photographed them I decided that the images have more presence than the physical objects as due to their larger scale, they reveal details and nuances of how the materials behave.
I have taken the unprecedented step for me in presenting the work only as photographs. This gives this ephemeral work made from cheap materials an altered value. It exists in a different space, can be reproduced and therefore shown and sold in a different way to sculpture.
I collaborated with artist Peter Griffiths to take the photographs. They are inkjet prints on Museum Heritage paper.
To mark the end of my 2018 sabbatical, I presented new work at DINA Sheffield;
‘What are we going to do with all this stuff?’
Using the period Jara room with its seven sash windows and dark painted walls, I created an installation of domestic tables on which were placed the small sculpture The Dilemma of the Non-ephemeral Artefact and Other Possibilities for Non-essential Utensils.
I also showed a lightbox and series of photographs of sculptural objects, Making a Promise.
Peter Griffiths has made some works in response to my sculpture which he displayed in the form of a lightbox and two screen prints.
To mark the end of my 2018 sabbatical, I am presenting new work at DINA Sheffield.
Friday 7th September, 4-7 and Saturday 8th September 10-4.
I will be showing three new series of work; The Dilemma of the Non-ephemeral Artefact, Making a Promise and Other Possibilities for Non-essential Utensils. This is not a selling event; it is an opportunity for me to share what I have been making and get feedback from friends, colleagues and anyone else who drops by.
On Friday there will be drinks and nibbles.
On Saturday DINA Diner is open for vegetarian/vegan food and drink.
The event will take place upstairs in the Jara room, the entrance of which is on Bethel Walk, off Cambridge Street, right next to DINA Diner.