Last chance to see Andy Holden’s new installation

Photo: Andy Holden

Photo: Andy Holden

It’s the final weekend to see a new installation by Bedford based artist Andy Holden, commissioned by MK Gallery, within the MK50 anniversary exhibition, A New City Comes to Life.

The artwork, which is currently on display in Middleton Hall, the centre:mk, is based on a series of staged photographs of young couples kissing against iconic public sculptures in Milton Keynes. These photographs are hung on large-scale cut-outs of the sculptures, creating a mini sculpture park, which the artist imagines as a stage set for more activities and interaction.

Some of the most well-loved public artworks in Milton Keynes are featured in the installation. Elisabeth Frink’s Horse, Essence by Wendy Taylor and The Space Between by Eilis O’Connell sit alongside replicas of three classic works by Bernard Schottlander. Andy Holden’s interpretation of these MK landmarks is part of the body of work, MI!MS (Maximum Irony! Maximum Sincerity), a manifesto for art practice that Andy and a group of four friends developed when they were in their teens. A film and paintings from MI!MS, can be seen in MK Gallery’s Project Space until 28 January.

Describing why he chose Milton Keynes as the backdrop for his romantic photographs, Holden states: “It intuitively made sense to me. It came from a photo I’d taken of a couple kissing on the base of a public sculpture when I was travelling in Germany eight or nine years ago. It was complete chance, but looked staged. I wanted to re-create this and Milton Keynes’ strange abstract sculptures, lurking in corners I’d discovered whilst roaming around, were always at the back of my mind. It was certainly in tune with how Milton Keynes had seemed to me as a teenager.”

The installation also marks the beginning of City Club. During 2017, MK Gallery will bring together artists and arts organisations from across Milton Keynes to celebrate our unique city’s 50th anniversary through a programme of new art, performances, family activities, commissions, happenings, events and talks inspired by the original cultural plans for Milton Keynes. The project will enable thousands of people throughout Milton Keynes to explore, enjoy and be inspired by their surroundings. Visitors to the Middleton Hall exhibition can find out more about the programme and Andy Holden’s artwork by picking up issue one of the City Club newspaper, alternatively download a copy HERE.

A New City Comes to Life runs until 23 January 2017. Entry is free.

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Photo: Andy Holden

Photo: Andy Holden

Family Performance

Over the next two years, MK Gallery will work with Townley and Bradby on Playing Out. As a collaborative artist practice involving two parents, and at times, their three children, Townley and Bradby incorporate mundane domestic routine and the emotional intensity of family life into their art. They will be artists-in-residence for two years in Conniburrow, and the neighbouring communities of Fishermead, Downs Barn and Springfield working alongside participatory artist Georgina Manly and a research student from the University of Northampton. Their work in Conniburrow will link up with Big Local Conniburrow, a groundbreaking project run by the local community.

The family describe their first encounter with the MK Gallery staff team:

We make work about the family, and sometimes we do this as a family. Vic* suggested that for our first encounter with the other MK Gallery staff we could do a presentation of some sort. The idea was to give staff an idea of our approach and our practice. In our experience the slides+speaking format doesn’t access the ways that children think or communicate. We wanted to use a format that all five of us could take part in.

This year we have been trying out ways of performing as a family. So far, the main features of our family performances seem to be:
– tension and arguments in the days beforehand
– minimal rehearsal (ideally no more than half an hour)
– a clear structure that we can improvise around
– some props

The performance took place in the Project Space and made use of the five large windows. As the gallery staff were coming in, we were in our places, on the window ledges, hidden from view by the blackout curtains. Once everyone was seated we began to sing long notes and to gently waft the curtains. After a few minutes we stepped down into the room. We kept hold of the hem of curtains so they dipped and climbed behind us like vampire capes. We then took turns at telling the other four to be quiet and to listen. Every so often we would dash to a table to grab one of the props to help us. The props included velvet dog ears, woolly leg warmers, a cock’s comb hat, various percussion, a Russian hat, a rain stick, a head scarf. Each dash to the table was a chance for the others to steal that person’s place. We ended by all trying to balance on the same small wooden stool.

*Victoria Mayes is Head of Learning at MK Gallery

Meet MK Gallery’s third Family-in-Residence, the Pozzutos!

MK Gallery's third Family-in-Residence, the Pozzuto family.

MK Gallery’s third Family-in-Residence, the Pozzuto family.

Over the past couple of months, MK Gallery’s latest Family-in-Residence, the Pozzuto family, have been collaborating with artist Willow Mitchell to bring you a fun Minecraft inspired event for all the family on Sunday 18 December.

Join us as we travel through a portal and explore a land of gaming and pixels. Together we will move around creative biomes (zones) and as we construct and create, we will all become players in our own cyberspace.

The Pozzuto family have lived in Bletchley for the past seven years. Comprised of mum Leanne, dad Riccardo, nanny Shirley, and children Olivia and Leo, they are regular attendees to our Collaborate family workshops. Leanne identifies Shirley as the creative influence in the family, with this creativity now being shared with the grandchildren.

We are very excited to have them as our third Family-in-Residence and hope that you can join us on 18 December from 1-3pm to celebrate their good work. Tickets cost £1 per person on the door and can be reserved here.

Run MK Marathon for MK Gallery

MK Gallery

MK Gallery has signed up as a charity partner for Milton Keynes Marathon and Half Marathon Weekend 2017.

Consistently ranked in the top 10 UK marathons, Milton Keynes Marathon is the perfect event for first-time marathon runners thanks to its fast and flat course. Runners pass local landmarks on the green and scenic 13.1 and 26.2 mile routes. We have places available for runners who would like to fundraise for us.

One participant who has signed up to run for MK Gallery is marketeer, Kate Mooney, who states: “Growing up with an interest in creative pursuits was not the easiest in Milton Keynes. As a new town it lacked easily accessible culture, but at the age of 16 I was introduced to MK Gallery via their youth outreach programme Lost & Found. It is no exaggeration to say that it opened up a whole world to me, giving me the chance to have a hand in planning music events and even our own exhibition.

I will be running the MK half marathon in support of the gallery because I believe it is vital that they have the funding to continue opening their doors to young people and bringing interesting and exciting culture to a town, that at times, sorely needs it.”

This will be Kate’s first marathon and we wish her the best of luck!

We have complimentary places on offer to runners and ask that they fundraise a minimum of £100 for MK Gallery.

If you would like to run for us, please contact Ellen Myers via emyers@mkgallery.org or by telephoning 01908 558318. Visit our BT My Donate page for more information.

Outlands – Experimental Music Touring Network

Image: Churchill Studio

Image: Churchill Studio

MK Gallery is one of a number of regional organisations, venues and independent producers currently developing a new curatorial network for commissioning and touring experimental music. Entitled, Outlands, the network aims to support, develop and enrich the field of experimental music in the UK through a multi-year programme of events and audience development work. Led by De La Warr Pavillion, the network is currently in the process of developing a significant bid to the Arts Council’s Strategic Touring Fund with the view to initiating activity mid to late 2017, if successful.

Partners include: De La Warr Pavillion (Bexhill); MK Gallery; Cambridge Junction; Capsule (Birmingham), Fat Out / Islington Mill (Salford); QuJunktions and Al Cameron (Bristol); Fuse Art Space (Bradford); Karst and Peninsula Arts (Plymouth).

Keep an eye on this blog for further updates as the project progresses.

Acclaimed artist, Richard Deacon, In Conversation at MK Gallery ahead of new sculpture for Milton Keynes

Richard Deacon, Footfall, 2014. Image courtesy of Richard Deacon.

Richard Deacon, Footfall, 2014. Image courtesy of Richard Deacon.

On the evening of Thursday 17 November there will be a rare opportunity to hear artist and Turner Prize winner Richard Deacon In Conversation at MK Gallery.

The Gallery is working with Deacon on an ambitious public art project, to be installed on a roundabout in Milton Keynes in 2017. During this In Conversation event, Deacon will present an illustrated talk about his practice and share his proposed design for the sculpture.

The commission forms part of MK Gallery’s contribution to MK50, the celebrations to mark the city’s 50th anniversary. The idea comes from an unrealised MK Development Corporation proposal in the 1970s to install a sculpture on every roundabout in Milton Keynes, providing landmarks across the city.

Deacon has a longstanding association with Milton Keynes, having collaborated with Bletchley-based firms, Kemco Fabrications Ltd and Twin Engineering Ltd, for much of his steel fabrication work. Works have been exported from Bletchley around the world, including Japan, New Zealand, Canada and Europe. Working in wide-ranging media, Deacon selects ‘materials, processes and methods that are needed to create something, without knowing what the result will be…. arriving at sculptures unlike anything made by anyone else.’ His highly acclaimed career dates back to the late 1970s and was recently celebrated in the 2014 Tate Britain survey exhibition.

The sculpture, which has been made possible through generous support from a local resident, is planned to be installed on Fox Milne roundabout in Milton Keynes. The free In Conversation event begins at 7pm. With spaces limited, pre-booking is essential HERE.

The sculpture commission builds on the success of previous MK Gallery work in this area of Milton Keynes, including the popular outreach programme, Start the Art: Out and About for families living in the new housing areas of Broughton Gate and Brooklands. Later this year, MK Gallery, in collaboration with Broughton and Milton Keynes Parish Council and Milton Keynes Council is recruiting an artist to work within the local community to create a new public artwork in Middleton. An open call for artists will be advertised in November via www.mkgallery.org, with project delivery set for 2017 to coincide with the MK50 celebrations.
MK50 logo

MK Gallery’s Head of Development and Communications wins a Women Leaders MK Award

Clare Wood

Clare Wood, Head of Development and Communications at MK Gallery

Clare Wood, Head of Development and Communications was recognised on Friday for her contribution to culture and creativity when she won in the Creative Industries category of the Women Leaders MK Awards 2016. In a glittering award ceremony at Hilton Doubletree, hundreds of people from across the Milton Keynes business and community sector celebrated the commitment and achievement of all women in the city.

Now in its second year, the Women Leaders MK Awards successfully delivers its aim of giving women living and working in Milton Keynes empowerment and recognition for their work. The awards are led by Jan Flawn CBE, founder and Chair of neurological care provider PJ Care. As a previous winner of the CBI First Woman of Business Service Award, Jan recognises the value of identifying and celebrating leadership talent and is a tireless supporter of women in business.

Clare was nominated by MK Gallery Director Anthony Spira in relation to Clare’s work leading the fundraising for the forthcoming expansion of MK Gallery. Speaking about the awards, Clare said “It is such a privilege to have these awards running in Milton Keynes. I am so grateful to Jan Flawn and the partners for their commitment to celebrating women’s achievements. Delivering the awards is an enormous undertaking, culminating in the splendid awards ceremony. The competition is very strong and I felt fortunate to be a finalist. To win is just fantastic. It is wonderful to have this recognition and for the excellent creative sector in Milton Keynes to be celebrated. The award is also hugely motivating as MK Gallery takes forward the final phase of fundraising to deliver the multi-million pound MK Gallery expansion.”

All winners of the Women Leaders MK Awards have the opportunity to be nominated for a national CBI First Women Award. Further details about the Women Leaders MK Awards and CBI First Women Awards can be found by visiting www.womenleadersmk.co.uk and http://firstwomen.co.uk

Awards ceremony