Sam Goncalves // James Newrick exhibition preview 16/03/2018
17th March – 8th April. Exhibition Preview 16th March 7-9pm

Intimacy Without Relationship

Sam GonçalvesHow often are people the raw materials used in art and discourse? In an increasingly fragmented and prolific media environment, real stories have become a highly valued resource. People’s lives are turned into documentaries, podcasts, books, feature films, articles, digital content, Facebook posts, Tweet threads, Instagram stories, etc…

In a rally you may hear a politician tell the story of how they met ‘Darren, the supermarket cashier’ and how he said that their policies are ‘really the best thing for the British people’. At an art gallery you may hear of the heart-breaking and meaningful stories of the artist themselves or people they met, which have an emotional weight but conveniently also prove a larger point. It has become common place to package human lives into story containers, and trade them for money, votes, recognition and validation.

Sam’s work explores the ethics of mining people for their stories, and trading them elsewhere. As someone whose work is entirely about this increasingly rarified resource, he invites the audience to take part in the murky process of non-fiction and draw their own conclusions.

The exhibition consists of two parts; an interactive installation and a short film screening, both taking an inside look into the sort of work that makes this kind of art possible.

Sam Gonçalves is a documentary film maker based in Dundee

Autonomous Grace

James NewrickI struggle to keep up, down a tight corridor decked out with Pirelli rubber and walnut panelling, at the end of the corridor we both enter a small, partially disguised elevator. The floor is fitted with a piece of tired crushed velvet, still proudly depicting the civic emblem. The interior walls are lined with an intricately woven solid steel lattice and remind me of a crooner’s ribbon microphone. It smells like warm oil and old static.

Moving beyond post-war utopian ideals of “a city for the people”, we see the city’s receding backbone; Newcastle Civic Centre. Originally conceived as a symbol of prosperity, built to defend local identity through collaborative design and principle, the building has divided opinion since its Royal opening in 1967. Viewed as progressive, iconic, and engaging to some, and to others as an unjustified expense or selfish punt into the architecture of propaganda.

Autonomous Grace is an exhibition of work that concerns the social and psychological responses to the changing fabric of a city. Focussing on the civic centre’s protected, yet discretely changing interior, it examines the affect that architectural design has on our mood and behaviour, through elements such as light, space and materials.

As our cities yield to both the predictability and uncertainty associated with privately owned and conditioned public spaces, the work presents the viewer with an evolving set of issues to consider in regards to purpose and preservation. It also raises questions about our public lives and the spaces we want to inhabit.

Autonomous Grace is part of an on-going body of work relating to exploration of the built environment. It has been created in response to several months spent in and around Newcastle Civic Centre.

James Newrick is a photographer/ film maker based in Newcastle upon Tyne.

Photos by: Cathy MacLeod
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