Saturday, 23 July 2016

Looking at the Overlooked - Steph Rushton – Environmental Portraits

Ahead of her part in the upcoming Woman's Work exhibition in September at AirSpace and the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Steph Rushton is in residence with us researching gender roles in the Potteries. Steph will be blogging throughout her Residency.

More info on her residency Looking at the Overlooked can be found here.

Images of Bread in Common, Rita Floyd and Jo Ayre

Steph’s research findings have lead her towards creating more resolved decisions as to her approach to making a new photographic series for Women’s Work. Archive material juxtaposed with contemporary environmental portraits raises questions on both progress and stagnant attitudes. 

Women, identity and environment are the connecting themes of the photographic element of this project, which is looking at the work and creativity of  Potteries women, of the past, present and future.

What does woman’s work look like now?
Now that we have the ability to be autonomously creative, largely freed from the shackles of gender and class inequality that have suppressed women for centuries.  Where do shifts lie? And  where do attitudes remain unchanged?

In all of the images the environment is important, conveying a back story to the portraits, providing visual clues about the historical subtext; forming part of the hidden narratives, which are concerned with the collapse of the pottery industry, regeneration and global issues of sustainability.

"I had absolutely no preparation for the wasteland of demolition and destruction and abandonment that had been left behind. And I fell deeply in love with it." Emma Bridgewater talking about the Potteries at the Hay Festival.

Monday, 18 July 2016

MISALIGNED - AirSpace Studio Exhibition 2016 - Artists’ Intentions

A group exhibition by AirSpace Studio Artists.

12th August–27th August 2016

Private View: Friday 12th August 2016, 6-9pm 
Closing Afternoon Tea and Talk: Saturday 27th August 2016, 3-5pm

MISALIGNED is a showcase of new work from the AirSpace Studio holders, which explores constructions and compositions, processes and procedures, rules and rituals. We live in a world full of structures, ones we can see and ones we cannot. But what happens when these are challenged? What sort of world do we find ourselves in? 

The exhibition features work from: Chloe Ashley, Emilie Atkinson, Kat Boon, Kyle Cartlidge, Kornelia Herms, Joyce Iwaszko, Jenna Naylor, Peter R Smith and Sarah Thorley. 

Here is a sneak peek of the artists’ intentions for the show!

Chloe Ashley
For Misaligned, Chloe presents work from her recent residency, ESP Production Residency I, at Eastside Projects, Birmingham. The works displayed responds to the space, architecture and objects that inhabit Eastside Projects, whilst engaging with the practice’s investigation into photography’s materiality.  

Emilie Atkinson
Emilie‘s practice 
reflects upon cultural labeling that leads to misconceptions. Creating meditations on the everyday, myths associated with objects are exposed and questions on value, needs and desire are raised. For Misaligned, Emilie has produced a new work titled Porte-Savon (Soap Dish). Soap is her protagonist and snail slime is good for the skin.

Kat Boon
1970s England. Having steered the construction of the largest shopping complex in Europe to completion, a foreman sits down to a congratulatory whisky. As he slips into his contented reveries, underneath his feet the ground of his own home is quietly waking. Sinkholes, an audio narrative, explores how our desire to build higher and bigger can rip apart the land we walk on.

Kyle Cartlidge
Kyle’s work ‘No Fire No Skill’ is a portrait of front man Jason Williamson (of Sleaford Mods) caught mid way through vitriolic rant. The painting fast and energetic mirrors the vocalist’s style. Through his practice Kyle explores the materiality of paint often using his life experiences as his subject matter.

Kornelia Herms
Kornelia focused on invisible and visible structures of present and past which can be seen as influential to our lives and our ways of thinking. Transitions of thoughts referenced by structures seem to be representation of a fact, a trace of an event. Thought, fact, trace, structure can all be misaligned and create new construct questioning what we know and understand.

Joyce Iwaszko
City of Colour: Jasper 2021?
Joyce responds to Stoke-on-Trent’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021. She references the colours used to promote the bid and those of Wedgwood’s Jasper trials, creating a dialogue across colour, surface and time Misaligned. The work is concerned with identity, secret codes, and temporary existence.

Jenna Naylor
Why do animals and insects build their own structures and what could be their purpose? Are they building nests for shelter, or a safe place for metamorphosis from one life cycle to the next? Or have we yet to discover the real reason as to why they build their structures?

Peter R Smith
Peter’s intension in the installations created for ‘Misalignment’ is to explore the miscommunication of language and visual acceptance through an awkward tong where the visually acknowledged is tampered with. The wrong height, the wrong placement, the wrong angle and the wrong use of the verbal word.

Sarah Thorley
For the exhibition ‘Misaligned’, Sarah will be exhibiting a series of different scale manipulated photo prints. The prints focus is of architectural forms and lines of buildings in Hanley. Sarah is interested in the notion of the everyday and the people, objects and spaces that perhaps go unnoticed or not appreciated through our hectic lives in the city.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Looking at the Overlooked - Steph Rushton - Stoke Ladies Football Team

Ahead of her part in the upcoming Woman's Work exhibition in September at AirSpace and the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Steph Rushton is in residence with us researching gender roles in the Potteries. Steph will be blogging throughout her Residency.

More info on her residency Looking at the Overlooked can be found here.

Steph has started to cull some of her research as it was starting to get too broad in scope. She has started to focus on imagery that reflects both the past and present. Here research has led her to discover the little known Stoke City Ladies of 1922. Winners of the ELFA (English Ladies Football Association) Cup in June of that year at Cobridge Stadium.

A crowd of 2,000 saw them beat Bentley’s Doncaster 3-1, however, the following year saw new legislation from the football association. Women were forced to refrain from playing the sport as it was not deemed ladylike, and the team were disbanded.

Friday, 8 July 2016

Looking at the Overlooked - Steph Rushton - Cheryl Buckley paper

Ahead of her part in the upcoming Woman's Work exhibition in September at AirSpace and the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Steph Rushton is in residence with us researching gender roles in the Potteries. Steph will be blogging throughout her Residency.

More info on her residency Looking at the Overlooked can be found here
Today, looking at the historical issue of  gender stereotyping in the Potteries industry, I came across an interesting paper by Cheryl Buckley entitled 'The Noblesse of the Banks’ : Craft Hierarchies, Gender Divisions and the Roles of Women Paintresses and Designers in the British Pottery Industry 1890-1939.
Essentially this is an academic review of what I have always understood in an experiential way
(growing up in the Potteries and having many members of my family employed in the industry ) to be just the way things were..
‘ Opportunities for women designers and skilled women workers in the British pottery industry…. were mainly to be found in the decorating stages of the manufacturing process. These jobs were designated ‘ female within a hierarchical and gendered employment structure which protected and esteemed craft work done by men. At the top of the pay and status ladder where the skilled craftworkers who had served long apprenticeships; these were the master potters, art directors, throwers, modellers, engravers, and oven-men. The use of the words ‘master' and ‘men' in the job titles highlights the gender specificity. Master-Potter and oven-men had no female equivalent and only one skilled job was designated female in its name-that of paintress.
Although designer was a ungendered label, in practice a hierarchy existed within this area of work.’ 

Things didn’t seem to change all that much after this period either, speaking to a colleague who worked in the industry as a paintress in the 1980’s the role was still a female one with very little opportunity to advance further up the pay-scale.

Buckley, Cheryl. "'The Noblesse of the Banks': Craft Hierarchies, Gender Divisions, and the Roles of Women Paintresses and Designers in the British Pottery Industry 1890-1939." Journal of Design History 2.4 (1989): 257-73. Web.

Above, Young paintresses in the enamel department at Beswick’s Gold Street works in Longton, 1950. photo credit unknown.

AirSpace Graduate Residents 2016/17

Now into its fifth year, AirSpace is really happy to announce that our two new residents are Tom Verity and Jack Waddington. Tom and Jack will be starting their 6 months residencies towards the end of August, relocating to Stoke-on-Trent and taking advantage of free studio space, monthly meetings with Gallery Directors and invited artists, regular professional development activity, including seminars and trips and exhibition opportunities at the gallery, including of course, the all-important solo show at the end of their time with us.

Tom and Jack are coming to Stoke at a really exciting time for the city, which is in the midst of its Capital of Culture bid preparations - there's loads going on for them to immerse themselves in and we're really excited at the prospect of working with them and seeing how their working practices develop.

Here, Tom and Jack set out their practices and initial hopes for their residencies.

Tom Verity

My practice has a wide spectrum, exploring the relationships between painting and sculpture through the deconstruction of its traditions. My sculpture and installation reference minimalist sensibilities whilst maintaining an improvised, precarious quality that draws upon an interest on how art is physical experienced. My work is comprised of a mixture of natural, every-day and industrial material inspired by a do-it-yourself aesthetic. I aim to make simple, functional artwork that draws open physical material as well as the history of art.

During my residency at AirSpace Gallery I would like to progress my practice maintaining its core values but pushing myself into new areas. I would like to evolve my work to investigate the built environment, examining the role of architectural structures in art and attempt to redefine and redesign them. I hope to create new spaces where art can be performed and displayed in disused areas of the city bringing the art of the gallery out into Stoke. I would like to fully embrace and examine Stoke-on-Trent as a city, investigating its history and its place in the world of 2016.

Jack Waddington

The self-rewarding fundamentals to creating and the compulsive necessity we adopt are what inform my practice. I engage in emotional geography by playfully materialising an imaginary metropolis, through figurative painting and sculptural construction of utopian terrain in miniature fashion. Like a child seeking security by absorbing themselves within pretend narratives, I aim to adopt my ‘inner child’ and nostalgically suggest this process in a sensitive and vulnerable way. Playtime is a form of development and constructing maps is a process of understanding a place. How we reference ourselves within our work is where my sensitivities lie.

During the residency I intend to shift the focus from the private nature of my practice, and absorb myself within Stoke-on-Trent's differing identities. The polycentric distinctiveness of the area, a city of towns, is a curious quality I wish to analyse. I intend to walk and respond to the people and their localities. The navigations across urban landscapes would be revealed through an array of materials that would investigate the duality between looser and tighter approaches in my works. Exploring geographical portraiture I’ll develop locational inspired small-scale models and immediate against intricate drawings and paintings.