Bury Sculpture Centre takes a surprising approach in its programme.
How exactly do you define sculpture? According to artist Lawrence Weiner, even the sentence you choose to explain it with can, itself, be thought of as part of the form. Weiner questions the traditional distinction between the construction of language and of fabricated objects, suggesting that the way we build phrases has as much craft to it as carving or casting. By giving words a material reality, by printing them onto a wall in bold, blocky fonts, Weiner asks his audience to consider words as objects – and, implicitly, to contribute to their design by working out what exactly they might mean, and how to say them. Words are more malleable than marble, or wood, in this sense; depending on where you put the emphasis, the shape of a sentence can change completely.
Airy rooms, elegant arches and a beautifully tessellated parquet floor
It’s an inclusive approach that alters the relationship between artwork and viewer – which might be one of the reasons why the Bury Sculpture Centre chose Weiner as part of their opening exhibition. The team behind this art space, decided to debut its wide, airy rooms, elegant arches and beautifully tessellated parquet floor by hosting Text Festival, an event exploring contemporary language art. It’s not, perhaps, the most obvious place for the centre to start; with an exhibition that challenges received ideas of what can be thought of as sculpture. Or maybe it is – by being daring, and inventive, the Bury Sculpture Centre immediately sets itself apart. With a Public Typing Pool of manual typewriters on long trestle tables and an artist residency fostering a community writing project, not to mention an opening weekend of performances including poetry and live art, the venue has revelled in the unexpected.