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SALFORD NEO ARTIST EXHIBITS AT TOP SWEDISH EXCHANGE SHOW IN BOLTON
 

Star date: 30th September 2018

'ALMOST NOTHING, BUT SOMETHING'...

Corduroy 2 at Neo Gallery 23
Until 11th November
Market Place, Bolton

Salford artist, Denis Whiteside, who does incredible, barely readable, embossed stories of the everyday, is currently exhibiting at the amazing Neo Gallery 23 on the first floor of Bolton Market Place, alongside international exchange artists from Greater Manchester and Sweden. The exhibition is smack in the middle of high street shops and comments on post-industrial existence in a must see experience...

Full review and interview here...


Corduroy 2 Bolton Market Place Corduroy 2 Bolton Market Place Corduroy 2 Bolton Market Place
Corduroy 2 Bolton Market Place Corduroy 2 Bolton Market Place Corduroy 2 Bolton Market Place
Corduroy 2 Bolton Market Place Corduroy 2 Bolton Market Place Corduroy 2 Bolton Market Place
Corduroy 2 Bolton Market Place Corduroy 2 Bolton Market Place Corduroy 2 Bolton Market Place
Corduroy 2 Bolton Market Place Corduroy 2 Bolton Market Place Corduroy 2 Bolton Market Place
Corduroy 2 Bolton Market Place Corduroy 2 Bolton Market Place Corduroy 2 Bolton Market Place
Corduroy 2 Bolton Market Place
click image to enlarge

As families dart between the brand name shops in the palatial indoor Market Place in Bolton town centre, some do a double take on the first floor, as they gawp inside a huge retail unit with bare concrete floor and white walls...

...Here, in the stark interior, no-one is trying to sell them anything...OMG! On the floor is a fucking skeleton of a ram's head, an empty canister of 'hippy crack', a business card for a massage parlour...a bit of discarded 'Police Do Not Cross' tape...all part of an eye-popping installation by Louise Garman of found objects from her walks in the beautiful British countryside...

Welcome to Corduroy Part Two, a collaborative exhibition of artists from Studio 44 in Stockholm and neo:artists from Greater Manchester, all creatively expressing answers to the question 'What does it mean to live in a post-industrial northern city in this tumultuous time?'

There are over two dozen stunningly curated works...a vivid video show of pigeons fighting over a chip; a giant cloth towel roller for use after washing hands with coal; a chair made from packaging crates, old curtains and clothes; a comfy armchair in a UV-lit darkened room to contemplate 'the alienation and loss of identity of contemporary man', influenced by drowning refugees in the Mediterranean...

...And on the wall near the back of the cavernous unit are six white sheets of paper with almost nothing on them; until you get really close up and read the inkless embossed stories stripped down to their bones of mundanity...

'A family of five was walking towards me along the pavement and I saw anger in the father's round face as he pushed a buggy with his baby on board...'

This is The Everyday, 'a series of everyday observations' by Salford artist Denis Whiteside, who is more than happy to explain the piece, as "The stuff I do is not easy"...

Born in Lower Broughton and brought up in M3, Denis is obsessed with language "because that's what frustrates and amazes me...

"As a little kid in Salford I was late at learning how to talk but quick at learning how to read" he explains "I never thought about it until a year or two ago, but that's why, I think, I look for a different form of communication. Most of us communicate with words, either written or spoken or sung...but it's also got a downside as you've got a lot of politicians who use rhetoric and make shit shine."

The only way you can read the stories is by light and shadow, which changes according to the environment they are in..."I think that's what happens with language" says Denis "Nobody listens to the same story; they listen to it but take something different from it...catch onto different aspects of it. Nothing is fixed. That's why I make them so they are almost invisible. They are like whispers, but a whisper can be as powerful as a loud noise, for good or bad."

The white stories are also stunning pieces of craftsmanship, created through a process known as blind embossed, and Denis has had big exhibitions at the Salford Museum and Art Gallery and beyond. Three of the sheets containing what he calls "the scaffolding of a story" have the same 'tale' in English, German and Greek but no particular subject matter, just a beginning, a middle and an end...

"I strip prose down to basic fact and try to avoid metaphor, get down to the bones" he adds "No matter who you are, a space man or a bin collector, most of what we do is quite mundane...not interesting...These are stories just trying to champion ordinariness...They are almost nothing, but something."

And that could sum up this exhibition, with the 'something' screaming out messages of post-industrial psychic carnage. What's fascinating is that it's the same scream from Sweden to the UK. Looking at the work, it's impossible to tell which are the Stockholm artists and which are the Bolton-based neo:artists.

"I was living in Stockholm , had previously been a member of neo and thought a collaboration would be a good fit and exciting" says Bethan Hamilton "We found that we had shared interests in our practices...and already there was a joke about 'Manchester' being a kind of material in Sweden, what we call corduroy. We liked the production and industrial element of the title."

Bethan's own work in the exhibition is absolutely stunningly accurate pencil drawings of recognisable Swedish consumer products integrated into leftover packaging and, again, catapulting the 'everyday' into new dimensions. Indeed the space is full of unique creations.

There's a linen scroll, almost like a religious torah, by Christina Gothesson, titled Eternity Mangle, that puts the focus on 'women's repeated actions'; a giant patchwork hexagon by Susanne Hogdahl Holm, based on meetings by fifty women looking to 'form a democratic way of organising for female rights within the mostly masculine world of strategic war games'; and a massive fan by Mariana Ekner which contains the notion of people coming together to make a larger, connected expression.

Elsewhere, as comments on the environment there's blurred, dreamlike landscapes done via polaroids and silkscreens, and Alyson Baron's 'wet plate Collodonion' forests that come on like crying Rembrandts...There's a video installation where everything gets zapped; there's twine unravelling from ceiling; and Sandra Bouguerch's colourful, playful bubble with 'YAY' in balloon lettering, as a trail of eiderdown stuffing leads to a photo of a cute girl with a sinister 'choking hazard' sign pinned to it. Here the perils of modern society are writ large.

Everywhere, from Sweden to the UK there's warning signs of what is present and what's to come. If this Corduroy 2 exhibition was in New York, Berlin or even Manchester, people would be flocking to view it. But it's in Bolton where the zeitgeist is happening. And it's well worth a trip...

...You can do your shopping in the ace mall and then take time out to contemplate the contemporary 'almost nothing, but something'...

Corduroy 2 is at the Neo Gallery 23, The Market Place Bolton BL1 2AL, until 11th November.
Open times: Thursday to Sunday 11am to 5pm

For further details see the Neo Artists Facebook page click here

And the Neo Gallery 23 Facebook page click here

Curduroy Part Two is the second part of an international artist exchange exhibition that began in Stockholm.

Participating artists: Alyson Barton; Angela O'Mara, Bethan Hamilton, Brian Neish, Christina Gothesson, Denis Whiteside, Emma Goransson, Geraldine Hudson, Helena Norell, Louise Garman, Maggie Hargreaves, Mariana Ekner, Nina Wedberg Thulin, Sandra Bourguerch, Steph Shipley, Susanne Hogdahl Holm, Suzanne Harulow and Thaleia Kavada.


Review by Stephen Kingston

JANETTE BYRNE wrote
at 11:59:24 on 30 September 2018
Only ever the BEST from Neo artists!!! Jb

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