Wednesday, 12 November 2014

The Artist and The City - Artist Profiles - Carla Wright

The Artist and The City is a Two-Part collaborative group exhibition at AirSpace Gallery and The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Stoke-on- Trent, curated by Jean Milton and Anna Francis.
Between 2014 and 2019 a consortium of art groups, led by B Arts, will be working together to re-imagine Stoke- on-Trent as an ‘Artcity’.

Artcity is a five-year, artist-led programme that aims to:
• Improve the quality of place and life in the city for those who live here
• Create a new story for the city - modelling new ideas for the city’s future.
• Make it easier for artists to access spaces in the city, to make things happen.

The project in particular, sets out Stoke- on-Trent as a place for art and artists to thrive. This two part, two-venue exhibition examines the situation for artists in Stoke-on-Trent, past and present, and examines the efficacy and viability of the notions and themes surrounding Artcity.

Four contemporary artists - Adam James, Carla Wright, David Bethell and Sophie Bard - are exhibiting in both venues - in response to archived artists at The Potteries Museum, and in response to the idea of a future art city at AirSpace Gallery.

Over the next few days we'll be highlighting the artists and their works. The Artist and The city runs until 22nd February, 2015 at The Potteries Museum and until December 13th at AirSpace Gallery

Carla Wright

Carla Wright is an artist living and working in London. Her work examines the built and social environment – planned societies and governed life, and the bureaucracies of urban planning processes, which pay little regard to a our needs and aspirations. Ideas are drawn from unfinished building sites, urban wastelands and unofficial play-spaces, along with examples of alternative housing, self-governed communities and anarchist architecture.

Carla is currently undertaking a project entitled "Make Use" - a public project commissioned by AIR, which highlights an important history of alternative housing, resistance and organisation in the Caledonian area of Islington. Encompassing four stages and three months, Make Use included a group walk, with talks and performances by former Caledonian squatters, artists and activists, a series of screen-printed banners and an artist residency in the local library. The culmination will be a publication and a final event in November.

Showing at AirSpace Gallery
Plan for Playground (2014)
Scaffold netting, paint, scaffolding 
‘unmake’ bits of no-man’s land ‘ (2014) Video

For Carla, an ArtCity is a city where artists have freedom to, and are encouraged to adapt, manipulate and build their physical environment. Interested in the potential of empty and disused open spaces and buildings, she believes that artists could play a vital role in activating these spaces and creating an impact in the city. The work here aims to explore the existence of urban ‘play space’ and the idea of a designated fenced off area for children, usually outside of the city centre, something which Wright believes should be continuously challenged by artists and designers.

The work here is suggestive of a plan or blue print of a future playground but at its simplest state, where the material or shape are provided but the children become the makers, the architects. The work references defiant acts of graffiti and vandalism but not with an urgency so evident in graffiti styles, but with a certain slowness where the artist has been given time, space and freedom to produce.
Alongside the scaffolding piece, the video ‘unmake’ bits of no-man’s land ‘ will be shown depicting a brownfield site near to the gallery which the artist visited the first time she was in Stoke- on-Trent. The site is viewed through blue netting blowing in the wind, and the film is framed within a geometric shape when projected, acting as an example of one the potential play spaces, mentioned earlier.

Showing at The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery


The piece selected for Carla Wright to respond to is a small, black and orange teapot, one of Grete Marks’ most recognisable designs, with the double circle handle, and cheerfully upward reaching spout. The teapot looks like something that would appear in an early Mickey Mouse animation. The teapot was particularly selected to connect with Wright’s works involving communal gatherings and get-togethers - which explore social interaction. For ‘The Artist and The City’, Wright has looked into the life of Marks, and has in particular looked at the cutting edge pottery designs which Marks made during her time in Germany, responding to some of the geometric shapes and lines in the work - to create a sculpture which suggests the potential for a social space or moment - a conversation waiting to happen.

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