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BACKLIT: Same as it Never Was / 10 year anniversary review

2 November 18 words: Caitlin Scott

Backlit have just celebrated their 10thanniversary, which coincided with the new ‘Same as it Never Was’ exhibition. The exhibition reflects upon the journey of the organisation over the last decade. We got down to check it out...

Guests were greeted by a collection of colourful balloons at the door, feeling a bit like a children’s birthday party. This theme continued on inside, which included a dance floor, disco lights, two bars and even an opportunity for a tarot card reading by a man in a golden cape. On the dance floor guests were treated to a variety of games, one of the loudest was a spirited session of musical chairs. This vibe certainly encapsulated what the evening was all about!

It was quite a mission to find the exhibition artworks themselves, because entire rooms of the building seemed to be works of art. 

The ‘Chaos Magic’ room, for example, had psychedelic spray paintings on the walls, an intense audiovisual display and what appeared to be a gutted printer spreading its innards into the hallway. In the rooms which housed the official ‘The Same as it Never Was’ artworks, a particularly poignant piece was what appeared to be the manifesto of Backlit, ‘provide a space for people to show and make artwork’. This phrase had some depth for the reader, as it is clear the founders of Backlit have accomplished what they set out to do. There was a definite feeling of nostalgia attached to the exhibition, which continued from the manifesto and into artworks such as a wall dedicated to a ten-year timeline, were people could write down their own moments from the history of the organisation.

Deputy Director Suzanne Golden said that the exhibition is “very much looking at the history in terms of how we got here. Not only looking at the positives but also the things which didn’t quite make it, revisiting ideas and failures and therefore how we overcome and challenge things.” A perfect example of this concept is featured in a documentary about Backlit which is being played at the exhibition. One of the interviews in the film describes the beginnings of the gallery. Apparently, it was so cold in the building that there was an actual ‘frozen waterfall’ on one of the walls. The building was in such a state of disrepair that it was condemned. There’s a lot to be celebrated about how everyone has come together to make it the place it is now.

During the event the artists left the doors of their studios open so visitors could come in and view their work. It was a loud and upbeat environment! Jon Dask had screws vibrating on top of a speaker in the doorway of his studio, Reece Straw had his dog lying next to him who was eagerly accepting pats from passersby. Some artists had their works nicely displayed and were hovering around ready to answer any questions. Demi Overton’s art included some beautiful pieces made from pin pricks on paper, they featured patterns visible from a bird’s eye view of landscapes. Another residing in her studio and welcoming visitors was ‘Almo’. Her addition to the night’s artwork was an interactive piece where visitors could write a message on an old typewriter and in return receive a copy of her lovely, poetic zine ‘Blue City’.

According to Suzanne Golden, the premise behind Backlit is working with emerging artists, and supporting professional development. She said: “We are very keen on working closely with Nottingham Trent University and The University of Nottingham, in terms of supporting those gaps that aren’t covered on an academic level, such as work placement.” Golden continued to say that Backlit is trying to get the surrounding community more interested. “We are really keen for people to get involved in what we do and get into the whole arts world. It is competitive, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s a really friendly environment we run here.” This comment accentuates the whole atmosphere of the ‘Same as it Never Was’ exhibition. It is about the community of Backlit, the family of artists, and their history. Surely, after visiting this exhibition, artists and visitors alike will be more drawn to return and get involved with Backlit than ever before.

 

The exhibition is running until December 9th, 2018. More information about Backlit available on their website here.