Show See Say II: Digital Pen Friends

28 July 2020 / 18:30-20:30

For Castlefield Gallery Associates members only

Early in lockdown EOP, our counterparts in Birmingham, suggested setting up a Digital Pen Friend scheme – matchmaking our members to generate new creative friendships while people couldn’t meet physically. We wanted to support our members in making work and having critical reflective conversations while “normal activities” have been subject to restrictions. Aimed at generating an ongoing support network and the occasional collaboration, the connections were an open-ended invitation for artists to learn from one another and generate new responses to their situation.

For our July Associates session, some of the artist pen friends will tell us how it went and what they got out of it, including:

Steph Shipley and Monica Perez Vega
Sabrina Fuller and Brenda Hickin
Heather Bell
Andy Smith

Steph Shipley
Places that exude a sense of past, a public fascia and private interior; where a gap or an interval might pervade their decline or revival, are an ongoing source of enquiry.  An evolving series of projects investigate the temporal narratives and spatial relationships concealed in places that sometimes hold a personal or collective memory or intrigue or attachment.  Seeking out sites of heterotopia that are familiar but often estranged or transitory I examine the embodied encounter and performance of place through multiple readings in experimental film, projection and printmaking.

Monica Perez Vega
Working within a process reflective of life experiences, Monica embraces accidental and incidental moments; allowing herself to be guided by material. In doing so, she has come to realise that she is always seeking the catalyst or disruption and has embraced the transformative nature of the elements as potential collaborators in her practice. Her decisions are therefore an adaptation or acquiescence to circumstance as she navigates between anxiety and optimism; chaos and control.

“…All things in nature must adapt to the uncontrollable elements forced upon them and I am seeking to capture that which is on the verge of either renewal or collapse. Amid the relentless story of progress and the ever-changing state of all things, I look to nature for signs of hope; of a promise of return.”

Sabrina Fuller
I am interested in how groups and individuals respond and react to society’s expectations: how objectification and exclusion from mainstream society can give license to chart other ways of being: how a classification as Other allows a freedom to develop a language of difference and form unlikely alliances, and how we construct and express our subjectivities.

Collaborative and collective working – as both subject and as process, participation and giving voice are fundamental to my practice. I use a range of tools and media including still and moving image, voice, sound and the written word. I am interested in the physicality of our encounter with sound, in the non-linear nature of time, and how place offers an amalgam of metaphor and context, with its pull on what we can know and who we can be.

Heather Bell
For the past 5 years I have focused my photographic work on social and cultural history and the profound impact it has had on not only our culture today but also our memories. Crucial to the work is the development of meaningful interactions with custodians of archival materials, families and online communities.

Andy Smith
Art has simply always been my language of choice to initiate discourse. Following several years working as a Community Artist, my re-training in Fine Art (Bolton University BA and MA 2011 to 15) has given me a new perspective on how the ‘art world’ itself could use postmodern attitudes to include and enable the wider world to address cultural and societal issues.

I like to examine the logocentric perception we have of meaning. How this meaning is then used as a strategy by the powerful to manipulate thought and action. I use recognisable and newly created symbols and icons to investigate, challenge and sometimes deconstruct established norms of cognitive coding. Typically emanating from mark-making, (painting, drawing) works have evolved into installations, sculpture, activist’s props and even a political campaign. (2015 General Election)

See for the full list of artist pairs.

Image: work produced by Monica Perez Vega as part of the Digital PenPal scheme