MK Calling 2017 opens this April

MK Calling 2015 participants at the launch

This spring, MK Gallery showcases new and exciting work by over 70 emerging and established artists in MK Calling 2017. This exhibition will celebrate and champion the breadth of creativity in and around Milton Keynes and includes a wide range of art forms alongside a dynamic programme of events and participatory sessions.

Building on the highly popular MK Calling exhibitions in the summer of 2013 and 2015, this year’s show will see artists utilise and transform unusual spaces within the Gallery. Provocative, humorous, sensitive and brash, the exhibition includes artists of all backgrounds; all of whom have a connection to the city, either through locality or their practice. As well as discovering the finest new talent, we are delighted to offer repeated opportunities for local artists to display work, with more than a third of the past exhibitors making a welcome return. Diverse themes and subjects will be explored through painting, drawing, sculpture, video, installation and much more. Many of the artists have chosen to respond directly to our expansion plans and will present site-specific work that looks at architecture and the fabric of the building in its current form.

Over the last few months, the Gallery has been examined by architects and builders through digging, drilling and other physical interventions to test the foundations, structure and services in anticipation of our major expansion. For this exhibition, the basic access and health and safety have been temporarily restored to enable the building to be opened up for one last time before construction begins. With the exhibition designed to make the most of the makeshift quality of the building, artists and visitors will have exclusive behind-the-scenes access to the entire ground floor, including the old workshop, loading bay, shop and other improvised areas.

The MK Calling 2017 preview with live music, food and drinks will take place on Thursday 20 April from 6-10pm. Speeches will take place at 6.45pm. Everyone is welcome. Tickets are free but must be pre-booked here.

Speaking about the exhibition, MK Gallery’s Director Anthony Spira, said: “We’re delighted to celebrate both the 50th anniversary of Milton Keynes and this exciting chapter in the Gallery’s development by bringing together the diverse creative community for MK Calling 2017 and offering opportunities for all those with a connection to the city to meet, share ideas, network and participate in mentoring and workshops.

MK Calling 2017 runs from 21 April to 27 May 2016. Admission is free.

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