ELEANOR WRIGHT/SAM WATSON WITH ERIC BAINBRIDGE, PAUL BECKER, RALF BRÖG, ALEKSANDRA KONOPEK, SINI PELKKI, JOSH WILSON
27 APRIL — 24 MAY 2015
DURHAM CASTLE MUSEUM & 20 SOUTH STREET, NEWCASTLE
Continuous Material is an exhibition by Eleanor Wright and Sam Watson with six invited artists and collaborators, commissioned by University College and the Centre for Visual Arts and Cultures, Durham University. The exhibition explores the sites of Durham Castle, Durham UNESCO World Heritage Site and the contemporary art gallery Drop City in Newcastle through the practices of all eight contributors, their individual approaches to objects and storytelling, formally and conceptually and how the artworks they produce suggest narrative worlds each with their own set of rules and parameters.
Remixing recent and distant history alike, the moulding and reshaping of history forms a quiet backdrop to a series of new and existing works in the exhibition. Manoeuvring through two sites in two cities visitors encounter a series of subtle relationships between place and narrative, the exhibition and the personal, and the role of the artist as producer and storyteller in a continuously historicised and reinvented world.
In the first venue, Durham Castle, a host of found and crafted objects are arranged amongst existing artefacts within museological display cases and bespoke exhibition furniture. This sequence follows a principle of repetition and development that runs through Wright & Watson’s work as a whole. The second part of the exhibition, displayed in the gallery space of Drop City, contains a series of new works including the photographic series A Gradual Stiffening, depicting existing works, objects and exhibition arrangements and re-arrangements recorded in process alluding to the virtual connections between apparently isolated events and objects.
Wright & Watson are interested in how both situations of Continuous Material (Durham Castle and Drop City) can provide certain modes of experience for the audience. The exhibition features a number of works by themselves and invited artists that function between sculpture, photography, architecture, literature and curation; sculptural objects by Eric Bainbridge presented amongst historical artefacts; the film work Embarkation by Sini Pelkki; a spatial light design by Aleksandra Konopek; and Ralf Brög’s Isolations, which are here re-worked into a series of collaboratively designed and integrated display objects, developing a relationship between artwork and display, collaborator and curator.
Alongside two main physical exhibitions of artworks, there are a number of elements which are spread across and beyond the specific sites and timescales of the exhibition. Paul Becker’s The Opposite of A Pulpit is a newly commissioned text based around a series of real and fictional walks through the city of Durham, where he lived, partly in secret, between 2008/9. Like much of Becker’s work, the writing is concerned with the crossovers between literary fiction and art making. The ambiguous and liminal figure of the artist/writer embodies some of these parallels. The writing produced for this project will also form part of a guided walk through the city of Durham, whilst Josh Wilson’s Place and Pace takes on the role of critical essay, exhibition hand-out and text piece which is to be distributed across both venues in the form of a map. This newly commissioned piece discusses the formal and analytic connections between the artworks included within Continuous Material, considering the language that circumscribes exhibition making and playing with the displacement of patterns.