New commission will celebrate the sounds of Milton Keynes in its 50th anniversary year

Caroline Devine

Composer and sound artist Caroline Devine has been selected to create a large-scale and ambitious new artwork which will celebrate the sounds of the unique city of Milton Keynes in its 50th anniversary year. The project is part of City Club and will be led by Bletchley Park working in partnership with Milton Keynes’ arts and heritage organisations, the Open University and MK Gallery.

The artwork will explore the heritage of Milton Keynes and the way in which sound relates to people, memory, time and place. Describing her plans to develop the work, Devine states: ‘I am starting a sonic investigation of Milton Keynes that will include sounds, signals and voices from the city. I’ll be listening, researching archives, making field recordings and interviews and presenting this work both in the form of a multi-channel sound installation and online’. The resulting piece is set to be installed in centre:mk in October 2017.

Iain Standen, Chief Executive Officer of the Bletchley Park Trust said “Bletchley Park is an important element of the heritage of Milton Keynes and we are proud to be playing a part in the 50th birthday celebrations. As Bletchley Park is a birthplace of the digital age, it is very fitting for us to lead the digital strand of the City Club project, and we look forward to Caroline Devine’s innovative work delivering a bridge between the past and the future, and an exciting experience for everyone to enjoy”.

Kevin Duffy, Centre Director at centre:mk says: “centre:mk has a long, proud history of supporting the arts in Milton Keynes and we are delighted to host this exciting soundscape by Caroline Devine. Our iconic building is the perfect venue for interesting and unusual art installations, and they never fail to surprise and delight our guests”.

Devine’s site-specific sound installations provide playful and unexpected encounters with sound outside of a conventional gallery setting. She has twice been nominated for a BASCA British Composer Award for work based in Milton Keynes: in 2014 for On Air, a large scale outdoor sound installation for The Open University campus in Walton Hall; and in 2013 for 5 Minute Oscillations of the Sun, outdoor multi-channel sound installation in the Dome, Theatre District.

The commission forms an integral part of City Club, a city wide programme of new art, performances, family activities, commissions, happenings, events and talks inspired by the original cultural plans for Milton Keynes which will enable thousands of people throughout Milton Keynes to explore, enjoy and be inspired by their surroundings. Led by MK Gallery and delivered in partnership with the city’s arts and heritage organisations, the project takes its name from the unrealised national leisure complex proposed for the city by Milton Keynes Development Corporation in the 1970s.

An interview between Caroline Devine and Iain Standen of Bletchley Park can be found in issue one of the City Club newspaper which is available for download HERE.

MK Gallery    Arts Council England    MK Council      MK50

The Open University     Ernest Cook Trust     The University of Northampton

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.

dsc_0130

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