For the first time ever, Nottingham will play host to The British Art Show, a nationally important survey exhibition which occurs every five years. British Art Show 6 travels here on its tour fresh on the heels of its appearances in Gateshead and Manchester. In an inimitable gesture of legendary style, (and through necessity rather than design) Nottingham’s museums and galleries have split the exhibition across many sites including Angel Row Gallery, Beatties Toy Shop, Bonington Gallery, Djanogly Art Gallery, Lakeside, The New Art Exchange, Nottingham Castle and The Yard Gallery at Wollaton Hall.
The exhibition was curated by Alex Farquharson and Andrea Schlieker who at previous tour stops have been condemned for presenting a show weighted heavily with London based artists. Critics have also carped about the exhibition having too much of the same kind of work. Hopefully in Notts this will be elevated by the exhibition appearing in more bite sized chunks across the city. The show comprises work and projects by fifty artists and artists groups, all of whom have been chosen because they represent what, in the curators eyes, is the best of what Britain has to offer in terms of contemporary visual art. It certainly portrays a vibrant scene.
There are some obvious gems in the illustrious list of names associated with the show, including a few artists who hail from the Midlands. Heather and Ivan Morison who have lived and worked in Birmingham until recently present a beautiful, medium format slide projection made up of images from their travels around the world. Phil Duckworth and Ben Sadler from Juneau/projects’ performances explore in pseudo-scientific fashion how electronic gadgets fare when submerged in water or frozen. Other things worth a butcher’s include Doug Fishbone’s provocatively poignant yet perverted film Towards a Common Understanding (2005), which comprises clips ripped from the net to create an uncomfortable selection of imagery ranging from the pornographic to the ultra PC, and also Marcus Coates’s animalistic works which document how the artist attempts to communicate with seals, birds and animal spirit guides
If that isn’t enough to get your art glands salivating, there will also be an extensive programme of events happening around the fringe for the BAS, called Sideshow. The aim of the fringe is to get the fine people of Nottingham to participate and interact with the art work directly by rolling up their sleeves and getting stuck into art which has direct bearings on everyday life.
Look out for the people in pink handing out yoyos and Blackpool rock around Hood Town. They will be able to fill you in on the 40+ Midlands artists’ projects that have been selected to dazzle us. Things to keep an eye out for include dynamic Notts artist duo Ayling and Conroy, who have built a landscape of wonders in their living room in Sneinton. Naomi Kashiwagi’s delicate ink drawings made using a piano and the work of Daniel Lehan which explores the issues of privacy and voyeurism. This salmagundi can be viewed, experienced, thrust upon you at venues throughout the city including the Wallner Gallery at Lakeside Art Centre, the splendid artist run space Moot, The Costume Museum and the Galleries of Justice.
British Art Show 6 and Sideshow are in town from 22 April until 25 June 2006.