G R A F T Exhibition Review

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UKYA recently took a trip to Preston, to visit G R A F T at The Harris Museum, Art Gallery and Library. G R A F T has been developed and curated by Garth Gratrix, in partnership with UKYA and the Harris. Artists were selected from the recent City Takeover in Nottingham to be a part of this exciting show exploring perspectives on being human and how we are all grafting towards something.

The exhibition accompanies the top floor gallery of the Harris; a magnificent Grade I listed building built over 120 years ago. The collection houses fine art, decorative art, costume, textiles and collections on archaeology and local history. On approach and entering the Harris, the bright orange G R A F T banners and bunting are a stark contrast to the architecture and setting, which is much the same for the exhibition itself. Airy and bright, with distinct pops of colour; G R A F T feels discernibly contemporary and immediately invokes a sense of playfulness and intrigue.

Particularly exciting for UKYA was to see the curatorial placement of the works in the exhibition. Having seen all but a few new works at UKYA City Takeover: Nottingham 2019, it was lovely to see new interactions between artists’ work in this setting. Morgan Dowdall’s vivacious plates alongside Kerry Tenbey’s almost anatomical sculptures provoke a playful and intimate perspective on gender; Tiffany Slowik’s absurd and uncanny sculptures with the backdrop of George Chinnery’s fictitious happening in a field in Leicestershire; Sam Baker’s industrial wood and copper human forms alongside Herfa Thompson’s fluid and colourful paintings. A journey through the exhibition lets you experience the spine-tingling animation work of Megan Visser, whose whimsical films have an almost ASMR effect; learn about how hundreds of people relax in the illustrative and intimate work of Daisy James; and reflect on human vs nature in the luscious paintings by Juliet EP Gibbs. The exhibition really is a credit to the brilliant work by Garth Gratrix, Curator, alongside Kerry Tenbey, Assistant Curator.

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We were also lucky to be treated to an artist-walk-and-talk whereby each artist explained the context or processes of their work and what drives their practice. A great opportunity for members of the public to meet these rising stars and gain first hand insight into the their practice.

Following the artists’ talks and exhibition previews, we enjoyed a performance of CUSP by Isobel Adderley, staged in the grand and beautiful central atrium. Three performers enveloped in fabric attempt to remain still; quivering and contorting and creating striking living sculptures. Set against a minimalist yet unnerving soundtrack which is both hypnotic and jarring.

Full list of artists participating in G R A F T:

Beth Wise
Daisy James
Emily Stollery
George Chinnery
Grace Stones
Habib Hajjalie
Hannah Parikh
Herfa Thompson
Hippolyte Godest
Isobel Adderley
Jake Walker
Jodie Wingham
Juliet E P Gibbs
Kelly Fung
Kerry Tenbey
Lorenza Demata
Megan Visser
Micky Dickson
Morgan Dowdall
Rory Strudwick
Ryan Heath
Sam Baker
Stewart Houlker-Collinge
Tate n Lyle
Tiffany Slowik
Zala Zagorsek

It has been a pleasure to work with the Harris Museum and Art Gallery and supporting this great opportunity for young artists. We are looking forward to developing more projects with them and in the North West!

Laura Evans