New Art West Midlands, the Grand Union Bursary and thinking about New Work

In August, 2014, My work Walking in Circles Pt. 1 was selected for New Art West Midlands. NAWM is a Turning Point West Midlands(TPWM) initiative with gallery partners and universities in the West Midlands. 

The work of more than 20 recent visual arts graduates from the West Midlands’ five university art schools has been selected for New Art West Midlands 2014, a multi-sited exhibition designed to showcase quality, innovative work by the best new talent in the region.

The work has been selected by three renowned artists/curators:

- Mel Brimfield, Artist,
- Paul Goodwin, Curator, lecturer and urban theorist, Curatorial Director of 3-D Foundation Sculpture Park and International Residency, Verbier, Switzerland and formerly Curator of Cross Cultural programme at Tate Britain (2008-2012)
- David Harding OBE, Artist and Founder and Head of Environmental Art Department, Glasgow School of Art (1985-2001)

All exhibiting artists have graduated from one of the West Midlands’ undergraduate and postgraduate fine art degree courses in the past three years, encompassingBirmingham City University, Coventry University, Staffordshire University, University of Wolverhampton and University of Worcester.

The 11 framed photographs comprising Walking in Circles Pt. 1 will be exhibited at The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, University of Birmingham 14 February – 27 April 2014

Alongside this, I have also been selected for Grand Union's Bursary Award which offers £500 to make new work, and a series of mentoring meetings and opportunities with professional artists, as well as some studio space in Grand Union to complete works prior to the exhibition.

On submitting my work for NAWM, my hope was to be selected for a bursary, as at this stage, my interest is less in exhibiting existing works, but much more in the process of making new works, and to have a series of critical meetings and conversations running concurrently with this, is something that I have been seeking for a while.

The challenge so far has been in finding the time to dedicate to the NAWM process, new work for me is a 3 phase process - research and development, through traditional sources and also a series of walks, before the making and then reflecting and fine tuning. My challenge has been to find a way, alongside existing commitments, to make room in each week for this.

My early ideas for the NEWM bursary stem from a piece of work which formed part of Walking in Circles Part 2.  Re-Living Room, which I first realised in the window of AirSpace Gallery in 2012, is becoming a motif for an ongoing look at ideas of absence and presence and longing and belonging. Whereas in WIC Pt 2 the
Living Room set was installed in areas of Pathfinder housing demolition, my interests here are in land which has been bought up by land developers, and then "sat on" waiting for the right development opportunities.

The "sitting on" process invariably is characterised by a sealing-off of the land - usually with a mix of Heras and Palisade security fencing - designed to keep the public off the land. I'm particularly interested in this sealing off idea - a way of preservation through isolation, or maybe degeneration through neglect?

Moreover, questions about land use, ownership and access are raised.

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