Conversations in a new key

Back in January, my friend Jo invited me to look at a temporary art space run by Bloc Projects, thinking we could put on an exhibition there together at some point. There was a free slot for a fortnight in April if we were interested? Yes of course! I said, despite knowing that in April I would be very freshly back in the country from my amazing once-in-a-lifetime trip to Japan, back at my newish, 4 days a week job, and quite probably jet lagged. There was also the small matter of not really having made any art for weeks if not months, let alone have something to show. But Jo and I have been having creative conversations for many years and her recent work has inspired me. We both said yes, let’s do it, thinking we’d figure it out later. 

Cut to earlier this week, arriving into an empty space that suddenly seemed both dour and daunting. We had visualised how we could use the space together but stepping over the threshold now it all felt very different. How were we actually going to do this?

Jo has already got a strong body of work as a painter / sculptural installation artist from her recent time at ECA, but wanted to try out some ideas in a new setting; just back from my travels, I had very little prepared but I’ve been wanting to make some bigger work for ages and do some paper cut hangings again. Both of us are interested in the changing weather of life and the natural world, and how to capture that sense of wonder at the fleeting moment. Exploring this in a pop up space felt just right. Seeing how our respective work could coincide in response to the space, and most of all to have fun with it.

Work in progress cherry blossom with a glimpse of Jo’s wave sculpture.

What’s been so interesting and fun about this process is the different kind of conversations that are happening. Over the space of a few days I’ve come into the space to see amazing changes as Jo’s work evolves and winds through the area. I hang some cut-out cherry blossom shapes and  know her work will respond with a curve or a play of light. Our hours have been different so we’ve not always coincided in person but I see the art she’s done and she sees mine and it’s like leaving each other visual messages.

We’re not done yet. The conversation is ongoing and – terrifyingly – we’re opening the space up to public view so people can see the process. We so often see art when it’s “done” and has a certain polish; I like the idea of showing something that is in process and saying, this is where we’re at. Because art changes with the viewer, doesn’t it? Even if the viewer doesn’t like it or get it. Something moves forward, another kind of conversation.  It feels vulnerable and brave, and above all it feels creative.

Transient Landscapes residence from April 17th – May 1st 2023 at Bloc Meanwhile Space, Matilda Street in Sheffield city centre.

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