James Lomax, a Birmingham-based artist, studio holder at Studio Capri and recent recipient of a New Art West Midlands Engine Micro Bursary, visited the North East of England on a research trip last month. Here, he reports back on the exhibitions he visited and the meetings and conversations he had as part of this bespoke professional development opportunity.
I have recently been making a body of work based upon a specific town just North of Newcastle called Whitley Bay and wanted to make another trip to carry out further research. I especially wanted to establish connections in the area in order to show some of this work in the town later in the year. The work produced largely centres around stories my grandparents described living in Whitley Bay during the 1960s. Coupled with my own photography, research and biased memories, I have constructed sculptures and installations which involve multiple elements introduced to one another to evoke a landscape or create an unspecific sense of place. The works are assembled playfully, truths are elaborated upon and the relationships between objects are key.
The support from New Art West Midlands meant that I was able to do this and much more. I set up meetings with Newcastle-upon-Tyne-based artist collective, MILK, with whom I am planning on collaborating. Prior to the trip I knew two of the members but I had only spoken to the others over email so it was good to meet in person and be able to discuss the project easily as a group. MILK have just been in residence at WORKPLACE in Gateshead so I visited them at the gallery and saw the final iteration of three shows that they had developed, Like the green fig tree, which also includes work by Birmingham-based artist Joanne Masding.
Whilst I was in the North East I also organised to meet with a curator in the area for my own personal development as well as visit a number of galleries and shows, a particular highlight being Monica Bonvinci’s exhibition, her hand around the room, at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art. I attended MILK’s closing exhibition event to celebrate the end of their residency at WORKPLACE and caught up with a number of people who I had met previously when I showed work at The NewBridge Project in Newcastle. Wheels are now firmly in motion with the project/collaboration in Whitley Bay and the chance to sit and meet with people in person has really helped this.
Conveniently, on my way I back from the visit I was also able to attend the opening of a group show which includes my work, Last Chance to Paradise, at COLLAR, in Manchester. It was great to meet with the curators of the space and with other artists in the show, helping to establish new networks and the potential for further future collaboration.