Conceived by artist Matthew Wood (with the support of fellow local contemporary artists Anna FC Smith and Klaire Doyle and art professional Jess Fernhart), Seeing Things sets out to address the need for art access in underprivileged areas. Wood returned to Wigan from London just before the pandemic in search of a fulfilling creative career outside of the capital. This sparked in him a desire to organise a show that provides an opportunity for both artists and communities, while also working with the rich cultural heritage of the area.
Seeing Things gathers the work of nine artists based in the North West (Alistair Woods, Anna FC Smith, Dustin Lyon, Ellie Towers, George Hale, Klaire Doyle, Matthew Wood, Simon Plum, Ula Fung). The Arts Council-funded exhibition does not have a strict overarching theme, rather it is an eclectic collection of works that respond to the gallery space – either its geographical location or physical properties. Let’s take a closer look at some of the exhibiting artists.
George Hale is interested in the phenomenon of ‘pareidolia’: the illusion of perceiving recognisable shapes in obscure stimuli. He uses painting as well as other methods to reveal increasingly surreal imagery. Dustin Lyon is an artist and musician whose specialty lies in site-specific digital artworks and installations. As a musician he pays a lot of attention to the sound aspects of each piece, deepening the immersive experience.
Ula Fung is a painter whose work leans towards dreamlike figuration. Through her works she recounts her memories that have been changed by time and eclipsed with other images. Simon Plum’s paintings and prints also have a nostalgic air with old toys often being the focus of his still lives, yet it is social commentary and surreal humour that take centre stage in these images.
Seeing Things is an excellent opportunity to see the work of local artists in an accessible setting, away from what can sometimes be an intimidating art museum atmosphere. The work on display is aesthetically and conceptually memorable, proving that interventions such as this, which aim to shift the art centre away from the capital and reach out to audiences closer to home, are desperately needed.
The show is accompanied by a workshops and engagement programme.