Creative Network Blog

Nonarchy Exhibition

September 2015’s mini-fund was awarded to a collective of nine Creative Network members who used the £300 fund to contribute to practical costs in preparation of a group exhibition at Un Deg Un, Wrexham in April 2016.

 

NONARCHY

Featuring: Susan Adams / Morag Colquhoun / Justine Cook / Penny Hallas / Richard Harris / Jamie Lake / Chris Nurse / Tessa Waite / Philip Watkins

Nonarchy - Jamie Lake
Nonarchy - Jamie Lake
Nonarchy - Morag Colquhoun
Nonarchy - Susan Adams
Nonarchy - Penny Hallas
Nonarchy - Penny Hallas
Nonarchy - Penny Hallas
Nonarchy - Richard Harris
Nonarchy - Richard Harris
Nonarchy - Susan Adams
Nonarchy
Nonarchy - Tessa Waite
Nonarchy - the VOID
Nonarchy - Chris Nurse
Nonarchy - Penny Hallas
Nonarchy - Philip Watkins
Nonarchy - Morag Colquhoun
Nonarchy
Monarchy - Susan Adams & Jamie Lake
Nonarchy
Nonarchy - Philip Watkins

Nonarchy grew out of an invitation by Marja Bonada at Undegun, to artist Penny Hallas to propose a show for the space. Penny immediately thought of approaching artists connected with the Creative Network and the artists instantly agreed to the idea.

The show was a year in the planning, but took off in September 2015 when the artists visited Undegun to meet Marja and view the site. The variety and flexibility of the space was very different from any the artists could access in the Black Mountains. Urban, vast, multi-purpose, in the heart of its community, it was also filled with associations of its previous use as a retail space – from the publicly accessed exhibition area, to the brutal VOID which has overtones of a multi-storey car park, to the intimate former hotel rooms. The artists were the first group to be able to use the full range of spaces.

The artists’ reactions to Undegun were as disparate as their practices. They were interested in the exchange and process of working together. There was no overarching or unifying theme to the show beyond a desire to respond to each other and to the space, and although there may be correspondences between some artists’ work, the only overt link between them all was a connection to the Black Mountains.

This emphasis on process was potentially risky and posed various challenges: how would the artists pull together a show that accommodated – or even amplified – their differences, but would make a coherent exhibition? How would they work together in a shared context and create curiosity for a visitor – to draw them through space after space at Undegun?

More immediately, what might such a disparate group of artists call themselves and the show? The list of rejected titles could be some kind of manifesto in itself. However the number of artists, ‘9’ was one sure point of commonality: a nonagon is a nine-sided shape, a nonarchy is a rule by nine, but also suggests rule by none.

As all the artists arrived in the few days before the April Fools Day opening event, all knew of elements that would constitute the show, but none could anticipate what would crystalise through the process of trial, error and negotiation. The anarchic process of 9 artists responding in very individual ways to each other and the sites in Undegun gave rise to a vivid, varied exhibition in which resonances and connections emerged between the work in an organic way.

Support for the show – and especially the process of creating it – came from the Creative Network mini-fund and from Brecknock Arts Trust, and thanks go to both organisations, as well to everyone at Undegun. The gallery’s generosity, imagination and welcome of daring ideas allowed the artists to see through ambitious plans including breaking through the fabric of the building and working off-site. Marja Bonada, Mike Jones and Dave Gray tirelessly responded to questions, proposals and ideas over the year and have demonstrated their commitment to keeping the space open to as wide a range of their community as possible. In addition Kirsty Gaughan ensured a web presence and pulled together artist statements and lists of works into a booklet guide to the show. Undegun have posted updates and images online.

Another aspect of Undegun’s support was providing artists with student accommodation at Glyndwr University during set-up, which enabled artists to stay in the area and develop ideas more fully. The Nonarchy artists were determined not to let financial and time constraints to limit the ambition of the show. In addition to creating new works were all the organisational tasks, such as the design and distribution of publicity and transportation of works. All the artists have juggled other projects to see the exhibition through.

Comments from the opening event:

– Dynamic, inventive, playful

– It was a lovely evening and great to see all the work up and how elements within one person’s work related to other work in the show

– It’s the best show ever held here

– There’s just something for everyone… painting, video, drawing, installation, photography

– Well thought out in terms of responding to place

– It would be good if the show could go to another venue in the future

– Superb event, utterly fascinating, incredible work!

– Great for artists to have access to this kind of space

– #Nonarchy at #Undegun @wrexham is a stunning exhibition! One of the best I’ve seen in a very long time. A must see!

– Can I also recommend #nonarchy @thishq #Wrexham

 

The Nonarchy artists are now exploring opportunities to present the work in alternative venues in Wales.

Nonarchy Artists

April 2016

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