Testing Ground is a multidisciplinary showcase where painting, sculpture, installation and new media cohabit together to generate a creative laboratory, a space for practice where the artists have the opportunity to experiment and test out new ideas.
The initial project appeared about three months before the opening of the exhibition. The volunteers had the chance to explore new concepts and started to call the project a “testing ground”. The more the idea developed the more the volunteers thought that “testing ground” was the perfect title to describe what the exhibition was about.
Not all the volunteers taking part of this showcase are artists themselves, but they are in some way interested in art and creation, taking this opportunity to explore new means to express their thoughts. To preserve the idea of a testing space the volunteers who are artists assured me that they tried to create artworks which are not representative of their usual work but are experimentations. That concept also allowed them to free their ideas and focus on the process of making art instead of focusing on the result. But one way or another, the new work they are trying to create is still impregnated of their individual and personal essence.
The fourteen artists are presenting their own experimentations creating a confident relationship between their artworks and the viewers. Most of the artworks in the exhibition are works in progress and some of them use interactivity with the visitors as a source of inspiration.
In certain cases the spectators are asked to take part with the artist’s works by interfering in them or taking home a part of the artwork in order to complete it themselves. This intent of cooperation from the artists is a uniquely innovative way to considerate the viewer as something more than a simple observer.
Between several paintings what really caught my eye was a particular work where the artist is creating a compilation of women. Live painting portraits of female role models on the back of an old wooden letterpress type alphabet, she also has a suggestion box for anyone who would like to tell about their idols and offers the possibility to add them at her compendium.
Another interactive work is settled at the very middle of the gallery space - a wooden construction filled with numerous flowerpots and little plants growing in them - a statement announces that the viewer is welcome to take a plant home and track the growing and evolution of it by sending pictures on an e-mail address to be included in a webpage.
These and a few others works demand not only the audience pay attention but participate as well, in a show that questions the idea of a ‘finished artwork’ by showing artworks which still are evolving. The idea of the artists coming around the gallery to work on the pieces while the exhibition is still opened to the public makes Testing Ground an absorbing experience – the change and transformation throughout your visit representing a microcosm of the ideas and challenges that Nottingham artists are pioneering right now.
Testing Ground ran from 4 - 24 April