Material Environments is not your usual gallery exhibition. Indeed, rather than simply using The Tetley’s elegant interior spaces to display art, instead, the former brewery-cum-contemporary-art-centre will be transformed (back) into a site of production, with a show that foregrounds experimentation, making and participation over the ‘finished’ piece; exposing the cogs and mechanisms that make up creative process.
The five artists included in the show will each create work in response to the idea of physical or phycological transformation, resulting in commissions that grow and respond over the course of the exhibition. Expect art that exists as installation, workshops or ‘laboratories’ in which visitors will be able to directly engage, rather than simply spectate.
Serena Korda (whose mythologically-inspired sound installation, Daughters of Necessity, is on show at The Hepworth until 5 July) will continue her research into the relationship between acoustics, emotional states and the paranormal through a new series of sound works entitled Clairaudience. Harold Offeh will create a ‘live archive’ of research around ideas of reality, realness and authenticity – concepts that have become increasingly slippery in recent years – inviting visitors to collaborate with him in building an evolving repository of material sources.
Over the course of the exhibition, Radio 4 Woman’s Hour Craft Prize Winner 2017, Phoebe Cummings will create a huge immersive environment, filling the building’s impressive central atrium with delicate, organic sculptures drawn from historical designs and made in unfired clay. Visitors will be able to watch Cummings at work, and experience the installation change as the work begins to dry out and disintegrate.
Joanna Piotrowska’s photographic series Shelter reflects on our psychological relationship to our surrounding environment, and the mutability of architecture (specifically within the context of The Tetley’s own, developing history). And Keith Harrison – best known for his ambitious works that both embrace and challenge the spaces in which they are presented (once endangering the entire ceramics collection during his residency at the V&A Museum) – will create a new piece spanning The Tetley’s interior and responding to the building’s industrial heritage. Become part of Harrison’s making process at one of his ‘Experiment Workshops’ on 19th and 20th May during The Tetley Weekender.
Overall, Material Environments is an invitation to question the role of art as something that actively shapes and defines our environments, rather than simply existing within them. If cold, clinical, ‘do not touch’ exhibitions are not your thing, then this should be totally for you.