Response: A Rural / Urban Conversation

Artist in Residence, Jenny Purrett and artists Lauren Healey, Rory Biddulph, Thomas Whittle, Holly Watson and David Lisser from NewBridge Project spent 3 days making new work for Highgreen. At the end of the 3 days the artwork was shown to the public at a special viewing on 5th June.

Jenny Purrett spent 3 days felting 3 sheep’s fleeces into  sheets. Each one took 9 hours to make. The finished sheets were huge and hung from the rafters of her studio. Each one still holds the story of the sheep, it’s markings, elements of the landscape through which the sheep walked… bits of moss, lichen, grass and mud.

Lauren Healey made a series of pinhole photographs of details of Highgreen’s outbuildings. Because of the long exposure a period of time is captured in one image instead of  a fraction of a second. Lauren made a looped video out of the photographs which was then projected so that one still image graduallly faded into the next. Projected onto the rough interior wall of the coal shed at Highgreen, the wall is visible as the video plays on top of it, creating a sense that the images recorded by photograph are embedded into the interior of the buildings.

Holly Watson used shiny bright yellow and black flood bags filled with plaster to temporarily fill the narrow air gaps in the wallks of the Danish Barn at Highgreen.

David Lisser’s piece explored the activity of sharing bread; how it has a deep social meaning;how it breaks down barriers and is fundamental to the fabric of most societies. It is both a daily foodstuff and something that can hold great significance with many special variations of bread existing to celebrate religious, traditional or family events with the sharing of it part of the ceremony. David  spent 3 days baking bread and used the loaves to block the entrance to a room (the Potting Shed at Highgreen). David spent the duration of the special viewing seated at a dining table and invited people to take a loaf from the wall, thereby slowly dismantling it. When it was low enough David invited them to step over it, come in, take a seat and share food, drink and conversation.

Rory Biddulph removed sections of turf complete with native grasses from around Highgreen and placed them in a wooden frame structure which, at the end of the viewing, removed and took into Newcastle.

On each of the three days Thomas Whittle completed a circular walk of increasing length. On each walk he found objects that he brought back and then drew directly onto the map.  The map was displayed along with a series of photographs of trees displayed in front of ‘found’ paperback books in turn presented on wooden blocks slipped into gaps in the barn walls.

The artists then spent 3 days working in an empty shop unit in Eldon Square Shopping Centre developing these pieces to respond to the very different city context. A catalogue has been produced that includes images of the work shown in the rural and urban venues and an essay by Dr Venda Pollock. The exhibition in Newcastle invited conversation about the impact of location upon practice.