Work from five rising stars being showcased at major new arts biennial taking over the city’s unique places and spaces.
Storyhouse is delighted to be supporting five emerging artists to showcase brilliant and thought-provoking new work in the city this autumn as part of the inaugural Chester Contemporary.
The major new visual arts biennial takes place at locations across the city from September 22 to December 1 and is curated by internationally renowned Chester-born artist Ryan Gander.
It aims to make, show and celebrate relevant, distinctive and contemporary art from local, national and international artists alongside a programme of events for the community which respond to the city’s unique places and spaces, history and characters.
Two years in the planning, Chester Contemporary is led by Cheshire West and Chester Council with funding from Arts Council England and the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.
Storyhouse is a proud partner of the event and is producing the exciting Emerging Artists programme, offering a platform for some of the brightest and best of the new generation of practitioners who have been inspired by the Contemporary’s theme Centred on the Periphery.
Work by Charlotte van Berckel, Nick Davies, Harry Grundy, William Lang and James Lomax will be staged at venues including the Grosvenor Museum, Dean’s Field at Chester Cathedral and the city’s famous Roodee.
Charlotte van Berckel is a London born and based artist who graduated from the City and Guilds of London Arts School in 2022 with a BA in Fine Art, and also holds a BA in History of Art from the University of Manchester.
Her artistic practice incorporates sculpture, paintings, drawings, installation and happenings, and she creates work in her studio and in spaces around the world, from bars to trains to the outdoors.
She is also the founder of Going Places, a label creating modern London memorabilia and apparel.
Her new work Chester From Boughton, 1879 by John Finnie, reimagined 2023 will be on show at the Grosvenor Museum where the artist will ask visitors to look at Finnie’s familiar landscape of Chester in a new light by turning it upside down, encouraging viewers to experience what they think they know with fresh eyes.
John Finnie was a Scottish landscape painter and engraver who spent more than 40 years of his working life in nearby Liverpool where he was head of the Art School.
Nick Davies was born in St Asaph in North Wales in 1985 and graduated from the University of Leeds in 2008 with a degree in Contemporary Art Practice.
He explores cultural and social values through a variety of inter-disciplinary, collaborative, performative and socially engaged methods.
In his work for the Contemporary, titled A Sweet Confection, Sorry Paul (Way After Goteddsday), 2023, he is creating saturated cement forms to resemble jumpers for goalposts in the middle of Chester’s racecourse.
In the Middle Ages, the Roodee – the world’s oldest racecourse – was the site of the violent Goteddsday (Shrove Tuesday) football matches, which were eventually banned in the 16th Century.
Meanwhile members of the public are being given the chance to own a slice of artist Harry Grundy’s new work Janus Wept, 2023.
Janus was the two-headed Roman god of doors, gateways and transitions. Now his gaze turns on Chester’s puddles – unique forms that require rain to be seen but will be brought to life here in a series of five different dishes, modelled directly from puddles in the city and displayed and sold through charity shops in Frodsham Street with the proceeds going to the charity.
London-based Grundy creates conceptual, performative and multidisciplinary work, navigating contemporary culture’s hunger for instant gratification through layers of meaning and opening up conversation and inviting the viewer to look closely and critically at our relationship with the world.
The 30-year-old graduated from Kingston University in 2016 with first class honours in graphic design and studied clowning at Albert and Friends Circus.
William Lang is a dancer, performance maker, visual artist and writer whose creative practice is rooted in improvisation, intuition and play, bringing together costume, music, found objects, collage, poetry and film.
He lives and works in Liverpool where he took part in the 2021 Biennial.
For the Chester Contemporary, he has created Crop, 2023, a performance and installation in Dean’s Field which uses the floorplan of Chester Cathedral’s cloisters as a blueprint for a stage mown into the lawn and which will be used by the artist during dance performances over the course of the biennial – with the best view being from the nearby city walls.
A sculptural intervention will sit alongside the performance in the form of small metal bespoke windchimes which will be hung near and above places of waste disposal in the city centre.
And James Lomax’s Do You Know Who You Are? Critical Thinking is Good For You, 2023 will see market-style tarpaulins in windows and on rooftops of retail spaces across the city which will be largely visible by walking Chester’s historic walls.
Tarpaulins were designed to cover cargoes at sea, and these seemingly abandoned or discarded items will evoke the importance of Chester’s historical place as a centre of national and international trade.
Born in 1991, Lomax studied at the Ruskin School of Art and graduated from the Royal Academy Schools in 2022.
He is drawn to objects that act as barriers and containers and uses these to investigate the physical and material language of a place. He works with found objects, reframing and reconstructing them by altering their context, materiality and form.
Storyhouse Creative Director Suzie Henderson said: “Chester Contemporary is a brilliant new addition to the city’s wide-ranging cultural calendar and gives Chester the chance to build a real visual arts presence on both a national and international stage.
“Storyhouse has always been committed to nurturing new and exciting talent, so we’re very proud to be supporting the Chester Contemporary’s Emerging Artists programme.
“The five commissioned early years artists have created some intriguing and powerful new work, inspired by Chester’s distinct history and geography and which will appear in unexpected locations. I know it will prompt conversation and debate as well as delight and entertain both Cestrians and visitors to the city.”
For more details about the Chester Contemporary, visit the website at www.chestercontemporary.org
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