Yelena Popova. Photograph Michael Forbes
Probably fated to be known to LeftLion readers as Primreh, Nottingham’s newest visual arts venue is based in the former Douglas Road Primary School, a Grade II listed Victorian building in Radford, a few minutes’ walk down Ilkeston Road from Canning Circus.
Since September 2011, when the first artists moved in, the labyrinth of corridors, classrooms and halls has developed into a hive of creative goings-on. This weekend – between 1pm and 5.30pm on October 20 and 21 – there’ll be an opportunity for everyone to get inside and have a good nose around the place.
It’s been open before, hosting exhibitions as part of WEYA, a variety of one-off Tether events and a recent gig by Notts’s very own doodling powerhouse Jon Burgerman and his quirky vegetarian musical combo, Anxieteam, but even if you’ve been inside before, the Access All Areas weekend marks the first time the place has opened its doors to the public in its own right.
Apart from filling the public spaces with work by many of the 28 artists and collectives based in the building – ranging from painters like Mik Godley, Frank Kent and Yelena Popova, and sculptors like Craig Fisher, Deborah Swann and Nadim Chaudry to less easily definable practitioners like Tether, Georgina Barney and Chie Hosaka – there’ll be many things going on that you won’t see anywhere else.
There’ll be a bit of social history pieced together as an audio performance by Hatch honcho Michael Pinchbeck, whose mum used to teach in the building when it was still the Douglas Road Primary School so was able to put him in touch with former headmasters and pupils, who’ve shared their memories with him.
Perhaps most surprisingly, there’ll be a pop up café, serving food and cakes made in-house by Le Pain a la Main, a possibly unique feature of Primary being that it’s recently become home to an artisan bakery that supplies delis and restaurants all over town – anyone who went to the Disorder event during WEYA will vouch for the quality of their produce.
Between coffees and cakes, you can take in a film show-reel of work by Primary artists like Simon Withers, Frank Abbott, Rhiannon Slade and Becky Beinart, photography by Andy Lock and Belen Cerezo and check out a showreel put together by Norwich-based OUTPOST, who will be screening shorts by Yuki Kishino, Paul Harrison, Anna Lucas, Rehana Zaman and Matthew Ferguson.
Another platform happens on Saturday night, from 6 - 9pm, when Reactor stage Function VI in Primary’s atmospherically dilapidated Blue Building, which has been transformed for one night only into the venue for a “punch-packed double thriller-chiller terror program” involving a Blue Nun, a non-existent artist, sound from AAS and Tether and live performance from Amelia Beavis-Harrison, Bruce Asbestos and Philip Henderson.
If that sounds a bit intense, Sunday’s session offers a chance to take it all in at a mellower pace, with a jazz lunchtime, artworks on display and the studios open: don’t miss Chie Hosaka’s delicate ceramics and drawings, Nadim Chaudry’s aroused Harem, or the display of paintings by Yelena Popova and Marek Tobolewski alongside Michael Forbes’ mergers of street photography and cool abstract painting.
In short, the whole weekend offers a chance to sample some of what Notts’s newest visual arts venue has to offer, nose around an amazing old building, put a few faces to a lot of artworks you might have seen in galleries around town over the past few years and eat some of the best cakes in the city. Can’t say fairer than that.
October 20 – 21: 1 – 5.30pm:
Access All Areas: Open Studios and Exhibitions.
Address: Primary, 33 Seely Road, Nottingham NG7 4NU.
1.30pm - Tour of building led by Rebecca Gamble, Resident Artist
3.15 – 5.30pm Studio A2 – OUTPOST Showreel
3.30pm - Café Con Brio (singer/performer Angela Warren and artist/performer Chris Lewis-Jones) will present a charming selection of European ballads
4.30pm - Tour of building led by Michelle Bowen, Development Director
6 – 9pm: Function VI hosted by Reactor (Access to event from Douglas Road entrance). To book go to http://function6.eventbrite.co.uk/