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Leading From the Back: The Backlit Artists Creating Exciting Projects

18 August 20 words: Chloe Rose Whitmore

From its three-story base in the heart of Sneinton, BACKLIT is home to more than eighty studio artists, spanning a diverse range of practices, including fine art, contemporary craft and creative businesses. The independent, artist-led gallery has provided affordable studio spaces for artists, graduates and emerging local talent for almost twelve years. With the studio currently still closed to the public, we took a look around to find out more about some of their exciting artists, including what they’ve been up to during lockdown...

Adam Beaumont
Adam is a multidisciplinary artist and witch, telling allegorical stories through sets composed of meticulously placed created objects, images, sounds and ready-made items. Inspired by speculative fiction, Adam’s artwork is an exercise in world-building and visionary experiences, influenced by set design and occultism. After graduating from Goldsmiths University, he moved to Nottingham to be part of BACKLIT’s Chaos Magic, an artist-run space in which he’s the resident librarian and lucid-dream expert.

During lockdown, Adam was inspired to develop an original system of magic based on phonetics, complete with its own symbols, correspondences, alphabets and technology. He’s currently creating objects like dice and wooden letter sets to assist in the magic’s performance, which will also serve as art in their own right.

Jazz Glenn
Jazz is a British artist-photographer exploring queer representation, race and identity. His practice is informed by critical research, (generational) memory and his mixed Indian-British experience, often realised through composed and imagined narratives using installation and imagery. After graduating from Trent, he developed his practice on an Artist Residency with BACKLIT. Continuing his work with the gallery, Jazz undertook an Equality & Diversity Researcher position to improve art culture diversity and inclusion in the gallery’s programming.

Currently, Jazz is working on a commission for the New Art Exchange, exploring local artists and their studio practices, which will culminate in a solo show at NAE’s gallery next summer.

 

Carole Hawthorne
Carole is an abstract painter whose work investigates colour combinations, rhythms, formations, structure and changing light. Influenced by minimalism and early Italian Renaissance paintings, her work aims to engage the viewer, stimulate the senses and provoke a feeling of calm contemplation. Colour is a predominant factor in Carole’s paintings, which go through an intense process of masking, layering and removing colour to create an intense visual field. Each piece is prepared by making dozens of colour swatches, which she refers back to as she works.

As lockdown forced artists from the studio, Carole’s work has become smaller in scale, resulting in a body of work that she’s continuing to develop now she’s back in the studio. During lockdown, she’s shown work online with the Old Lock Up Gallery, and is currently working on a digital collaboration with BACKLIT director Matthew Chesney.

 

Joey Holder
Joey is a visual artist, producer and mentor. Her artwork combines research into biology, technology and natural history, with mutation and hybridity as constant themes. Fuelled by collaboration with researchers and practitioners, Joey brings this research together with societal norms and prejudice via installations, videos and sculptures, creating fictional worlds that respond to real-world events. She’s also the director of Chaos Magic, an art project space set up to help recent graduates in the early stage of their career in the arts.

Joey is currently undertaking a virtual residency with Videoclub, a platform for artists’ films, videos and moving images. Along with upcoming shows at London’s Seventeen Gallery and an online exhibition with Matt’s Gallery, Joey’s work will be showcased in the next British Art Show, which is set to tour galleries across the country between March 2021 and September 2022.

 

Pablo Paillole
Pablo is a UK-based EU-national artist, working with moving images and performance to explore the relationship between fiction and reality; the past and the present. His artwork draws from archived and found media, along with newly filmed footage, to create revealing audio-visual compositions, intending to disentangle the media's conglomerate of fictional and factual content. He’s currently based at BACKLIT as the gallery’s funded studio resident.

As his residency with BACKLIT draws to a close, Pablo is seeking funding for several works in progress, including a real-life gathering of both fictional characters and real people, which will be filmed and broadcasted as a reality show in a gallery setting. He’s also developing a project with Filmoteca Española’s (Spanish Film Library) archives in an attempt to revisit the personal and collective stories within the Spanish Civil War period (1936-1939), a highly sensitive, widely debated and politically polarised topic.

 

Wingshan Smith
Wingshan is an artist whose practice straddles the fields of education, public programming and curation. Her work explores the cathartics of rituals as a site for healing in community settings, rerouting the viewer back to their own domestic sites where identities are first formed. At BACKLIT, Wingshan forms one-third of Soft Estate, a trio of artists working to provide artists and communities with creative resources, space, time, and mutual care. They are currently working with local Sneinton residents to research and engage with the history of a 19th-century asylum that used to stand in King Edwards Park.

Wingshan is also the creator of Tender Coven, a new online coven community, monthly zine and subscription box, merging witchcraft with support for emerging artists. Her latest work Picnic, a commission from Mansions of the Future, is available to view on their website until the end of September.

 

Alison Whitmore
Alison is a mixed media artist working mainly with assemblage, exploring the multitude of detritus humans leave behind. In Alison’s work, lost or discarded objects become essential ingredients in a new story. Her artwork uses found materials to create new objects and environments, such as coloured plastics set in resin, dolls’ house style vignettes, mini installations and curiosity boxes.

Alison’s current projects include Containment, a collection of found materials and mixed media exploring what it means to be confined, and House of Crap, a continued exploration into the meaning of consumerism within the home, using dolls' houses, dolls' furniture and found materials to investigate how we fill and overfill our homes.

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