Inside/Outside… in the gallery

Gallery spaces often feel strange to me. I didn’t grow up going to galleries, I did go to museums, but they definitely felt ‘other’ to me. Art didn’t feel other to me though, but Art as a practice, as a way of considering life, possibilities, change….. that was not something I was aware of. And having any kind of life around Art just didn’t feel like an option to me. Partially this was growing up in the 80s near Hull on the East Yorshire coast. Partly it was a lack of exposure, it certainly wasn’t something my parents were in to!

Shoot forward to now and I am a practicing Artist….. meaning to me that I am an artist, I make work, and I have consistent themes that I work with, that interest me or that I am passionate about. But there are elements of my younger self that remain. My suspicion of ‘other’ spaces. My suspicion of ‘other’ language. It made entering gallery spaces initially a few years ago (as an artist) pretty overwhelming. This overwhelm quickly turned to an aversion, but then to an opportunity. I generally want to use my understanding of this fear, this aversion, this sense of ‘not belonging’ to ensure that I invite audiences in. That audiences feel invited. That they feel they can come in and understand, or not understand, and talk or look or listen, and not feel shame or total displacement…… unless that’s the point!

This week we are all installing/creating work in the gallery at Winchester. It is an incredible space. Big, light, airy, in a wonderful central position within the campus but also with the public thorough way running right past it. But the ever old problem remains, how do we get the OUTSIDE IN? Or the INSIDE OUT? OR anything inbetween!?

I have brought my clothing exchange into the space, the clothing, the outers that I have been given. I will exchange these for the audiences outers, the pieces of themselves they are willing to share.

I also brought along my tin can telephone. Tins and string, allowing for simple communication between two people or things. I tested this out through the window of the space, to see if anyone wanted to talk to me…. they did not.

Tina Sanchez and I tested this out with her own work. Her large scavenged sculpture that bends and groans, rings, dings and crashes around you, it invited you to scrape, bang, hit and play with it, it invites you in. We attached the tin cans and spoke to each other through the work, through the wires and the sticks.

Can anyone hear me? Sarah Misselbrook asked from her mountain at the start of this project. I join this question with…

Can anyone hear us? Can anyone see us? Is anyone there?