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The Nottingham Contemporary Are Celebrating Their Tenth Anniversary

16 September 19 words: Alex Kuster

Since 2009, Nottingham Contemporary has hosted over fifty exhibitions, displaying the work of over 500 artists. This issue, we celebrate one of the biggest creative hubs in Nottingham, and all the wonderful things it does for our community. We spoke to a slew of the Contemporary’s staff to find out their favourite memories from the past ten years…

Wingshan Smith, Youth Programmer
One of my favourite memories was our double-workshop event on queer club culture for our Paradise Garage research project. We had loads of interesting discussions about party life and local queer club culture, and how to protect those spaces. To finish, we had an incredible voguing workshop, of course.

Amanda Spruyt, Head of Learning
I love the school exhibitions. Young people work with artists to create – everything produced is in response to the same exhibition, yet it’s all so different.. When the students see their own work exhibited, there’s always this ‘Wow!’ moment. That’s one of my favourite things.

Andy Batson, Head of Audiences and Partnerships
I came to see the Marguerite Humeau exhibition with my five-year-old son. There was a map of the gallery that showed what the figures represented, so we did a treasure hunt to explore them. It was the first time I’d seen my child impacted by art; watching him understand the meaning conveyed by the artist, and connecting with it, was a powerful moment.

Katy Culbard, Programme Manager - Loudspeaker
A lot of women come to the Loudspeaker projects not knowing about contemporary art or never having been to a gallery before. Over the course of a project, that changes; hesitancy and fear just disappear. Women find out what we do, grow to like it, and feel we are here for them.

Laura-Jade Vaughan, Marketing Manager
I get to learn about so many different artists, movements and social issues. Seeing all these ideas reflected in the exhibitions, and people responding in their own unique ways, is always a really eye-opening experience. I learn a lot about the world just from being here.  

Cédric Fauq, Curator

I remember when we invited people to react to Still I Rise on the lobby wall. After the first week, I read the messages and got very emotional reading things from a diverse range of people about their views on gender, the urgency to change mentality, and their daily acts of resistance. Truly poignant. 

Exhibition Highlights

Hockney 1960-1968: A Marriage of Styles
The first exhibition to grace the new art galleries started with a splash. During this timeframe, Hockney’s paintings were heavily influenced by Abstract Expressionism. He used symbolism, oils, gay slang and numbers to refer to his own identity and those of other men. The Americana perfection he curated was a huge contribution to Postmodern contemporary art.

Aquatopia: The Imaginary of the Ocean Deep
We may not exactly be near the ocean in Nottingham, but this exhibition brought it to us. The Contemporary collaborated with the Tate St Ives in Cornwall to bring together over 150 artists as they explored the depths of the ocean across time. Aquatopia allowed us to think less about what the ocean is in reality and more about what it means to us internally. Freedom, creatures, depth and mystery were all recurring themes.

The Place is Here: The Work of Black Artists in 1980s Britain
This exhibition brought together works from over thirty black artists and collectives; with everything drawn from the eighties, The Place is Here featured photography, painting, sculpture and film from a time of divisive national politics. Reflecting conversations around Britain’s colonial past, the Civil Rights Movement, black feminism, and apartheid, the exhibition was a montage of ideas that remain important today.

Still I Rise: Feminisms, Gender, Resistance Part 1
Women in history and women making history. This exhibition explored the role of female resistance movements from the nineteenth century to present. The focus was on community, collaboration, civil rights, black lives and egalitarianism. With a special mention to Maya Angelou’s poem, the exhibition presented art in an exciting way that allowed feminist and queer ideas to run wild across the galleries. 

Celebrate with Nottingham Contemporary at their 10th birthday party, all day on Saturday 21 September. There’ll be interactive lights, performances, family activities, live music and cake, all for free.

Nottingham Contemporary website

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