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.

MK Gallery patrons visit Juergen Teller’s new studio

Juergen Teller Studio, London, April 2016. Photograph by Johan Dehlin. Courtesy 6a architects.

Juergen Teller Studio, London, April 2016. Photograph by Johan Dehlin. Courtesy 6a architects.

The Gallery is working with 6a architects on its major renovation and expansion. Last week, our patrons enjoyed a tour led by 6a’s Tom Emerson of one of their recently completed building projects, photographer Juergen Teller’s studio in North London. MK Gallery patron, Peter Howard, describes the visit:

“The artist and fashion photographer Juergen Teller’s new studio is a bright spot in a nondescript part of west London. A group from MK Gallery was shown around last week by the architect, Tom Emerson of 6a architects, who is of course responsible for designing the major extension and remodelling of MK Gallery. Interestingly, a solo show by Juergen Teller, Don’t Suffer Too Much, took place in MK Gallery in 2003.

The studio occupies a narrow but deep plot in a terrace. Tom explained that it is really three square buildings aligned down the length of the plot, separated by landscaped courtyards. The first contains two storeys of conservation storage and offices, the second is a spacious top-lit studio, while the third is more domestic in character. Glass doors and covered walkways down one side of the site set up a linear route from the entrance, linking all three buildings through the courtyards.

A palate of in-situ concrete, plain concrete blocks, and large windows onto the courtyards gives the scheme an understated dignity, and the neutral tones that Teller required. The lack of finishing plaster and the exposed electrical conduits impart a gritty precision that challenged the builder, but result in a finely crafted place, while remnants of the historic party walls and an approach to landscaping that derives from a study of London bomb sites establish a truly London context.

Having visited this finely designed project, we came away feeling impatient to see the completed new MK Gallery.”

The tour was followed by the UK premiere of Chaises Musicales, Swiss artist and past MK Gallery exhibitor Eric Hattan’s recent performance piece with musician, composer and fellow countryman, Julian Sartorius. The event, which was held at Café OTO in Dalston, was also the UK launch of a new catalogue published by Holzwarth and MK Gallery, Works 1979-2015, surveying Hattan’s career to date. Video footage of the performance will be available to watch on our Media Channel shortly.

MK Gallery patrons generously support the Gallery’s work and in exchange receive access to unique events, tours and activities. If you would like to know more about becoming a patron, please contact Clare Wood on 01908 558 313 or email support@mkgallery.org

City Club Partners Meeting

Following the recent exciting news of Arts Council England’s Ambition for Excellence (AfE) Award, we were delighted host a first meeting of our City Club programme partners last night, attracting good numbers despite the wet and windy weather! 

The meeting gave partners the chance to hear about their respective organisations and activities via short informal presentations.  In welcoming partners, Director Anthony Spira described the broad scope and ambition of the City Club  project which already includes some 56 partners.  Whilst the £750,000 enabling grant from the AfE is fantastic, Anthony noted that there is still a further £300,000 to raise in order to deliver the full project vision. Everyone was thanked for participating, especially programme strand lead partners Bletchley Park, The Stables, On the Verge and Milton Keynes Arts Centre. The proposal to meet again in three months’ time to hear how early ideas for the various project strands are progressing was agreed by partners.

Those who contributed short presentations last night were: Anthony Spira, Director, MK Gallery; Cllr Liz Gifford, (who will Chair the City Club Steering Group); Lucy Bedford, Arts Development Officer, MK Council; Monica Ferguson, CEO, The Stables; Iain Standen, CEO, Bletchley Park; Claire Sapsford and Thomas Eke, Milton Keynes Arts Centre; Dr Andy Hewitt, Freee (artist collective); Simon Wright, Curator of Public Programmes, MK Gallery; Myriam Metcalfe, On the Verge; Yaw Asiyama (Milton Keynes artist); Victoria Mayes, Head of Learning, MK Gallery and Claire Louise Staunton, Inheritance Projects & Research Curator, MK Gallery. There was also a short video contribution from Project Art Works, Hastings. 

There will be opportunities for other partners to present their projects and ideas at future meetings.

A City Club Creative Producer post is currently being advertised.  The deadline for applications is 21 March 2016.  For full details visit our website HERE

 

MK’s Art and Architectural Heritage in the Spotlight

Demolition_hockeystadiumStreet sign

In the context of our planned main building renovation and expansion, the recent Outrage Milton Keynes talk by Tim Skelton (chair of MK Forum) proved both popular and interesting.

Tim’s talk ranged from MK’s architectural heritage losses (including the demolition of Bletchley Leisure Centre and the National Hockey Stadium near the CMK rail station) to more mundane matters such as street signage and replacement double glazing.

Taking his cue from Ian Nairn’s celebrated 1955 Outrage edition of Architects Review which drew people’s attention to the fact that places were starting to look the same, Tim described the uniqueness of Milton Keynes and the need to value its defining characteristics moving forward. He appealed for new buildings to be of the highest possible design standards and aspirations and concluded with the quote from Paul Finch in Architects’ Journal, November 2014; “How can we make this city more like itself, rather than more like somewhere else?”

In speaking with Tim after the talk he observed that MK Gallery’s City Club proposals serve to remind people of the original architectural and design spirit of Milton Keynes, and the possibility of losing this if we’re not careful. What are your views on MK’s architectural heritage? We’d love to hear from you!

Looking ahead, Tim will be speaking at MK Gallery again on Thursday 17th March. Full details are still to be announced, but the talk will be on the subject of public art in Milton Keynes in the context of Historic England’s recent protected status listing of over 40  post-1945 public artworks, including a Bernard Schottlander sculpture in Milton Keynes.

Meanwhile, you can read about the latest additions to MK’s public art collection on our website, including Sam Jacob’s temporary work MK Menhir sited above a Porte Cochere on Midsummer Boulevard. MK Menhir is also the subject of an article in the February edition of AJ magazine.

For the Transform leaflet and map detailing MK’s four new public artworks, click HERE.

Photos of National Hockey Stadium demolition and examples of local street signage courtesy Tim Skelton.

City Club Presentation available online

city_club13

A packed audience of almost a hundred people enjoyed Gareth Jones and Nils Norman’s City Club presentation here on 10 December, and now we’re pleased to be able to share it with you via this LINK.

Gareth and Nils have spent recent months brainstorming options for developing a sequence of public spaces between Milton Keynes Theatre, MK Gallery, Campbell Park and Midsummer Boulevard – including ideas for  landscaping, enhanced signage and a new ‘playscape’ – that would create a dynamic, welcoming environment to be enjoyed, used and animated by visitors and residents alike.

In their presentation, Gareth and Nils referenced the Milton Keynes Development Corporation’s unrealised plans for a national leisure complex in the 1970s and how it had inspired their thinking, research and ideas.   Imagery alternated between a mix of Milton Keynes Development Corporation archival materials, cultural images typifying decades from the 1960s to the present, and Gareth and Nils’ sketches and models.  The audience enjoyed slides ranging from a photo of an MK playground designed by Archigram (sadly demolished), to the cover of a David Bowie album, a Biba design for a baked bean can, and the extraordinary exterior of the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao.

Gareth and Nils shared different ways that MK has responded to the last six decades, touched on the influence of modernism and post-modernism on the public realm, and how they’ve developed their own “what if…” series of sketches, models and drawings for a series of spaces that everyone can enjoy.

The artists referred to their respect for the Central Milton Keynes grid plan, and the original city infrastructure, including key elements of paving, porte cocheres, distinctive benches, and globed street lamps. They flagged that many of these features are missing in the Theatre District and said they’d love to reintroduce some of them, suitably developed for the 21st century.  Through their City Club proposal they wish to offer people an exciting  “index of possibilities” or conceptual framework to reanimate and bring back to life the original utopian vision for Milton Keynes.

The evening finished with an enthusiastic Q&A session, including participation from some of our arts and heritage community and local councillors.  Gareth and Nils confirmed that, should funding become available, the City Club would enter an extensive period of consultation with groups and individuals, and start to address some of the scheme’s specifics and practicalities.

For a flavour of the presentation, we share this short slide show, which includes views of the talk and of the research sketches and models that the artists displayed for the audience in the next room. And finally, there is a happy picture of the Deputy Mayor of Milton Keynes, Cllr Stephen Coventry and the Deputy Mayoress Leanne Lacy, who’d just been saying how much that they’d enjoyed the talk and how they looked forward to keeping up with the City Club’s progress.

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Gareth Jones and Nils Norman have received support from the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

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Event Reminder: City Club Presentation – Gareth Jones and Nils Norman

We’re looking forward to welcoming Gareth Jones and Nils Norman back this Thursday 10th December at 7pm when they will be presenting the findings of their Arts Council funded research into the Utopian vision behind Milton Keynes and its relationship to contemporary art.

To find out more and book your free ticket click HERE.

There will also be an opportunity to view the latest plans for the MK Gallery expansion. We hope you can join us!

 

 

Project Briefing for City Breakfast Club this week

Clare Wood, Head of Development, MK Gallery

Clare Wood, Head of Development, MK Gallery

Tomorrow MK Gallery’s Head of Development, Clare Wood, will be guest speaker at The City Breakfast Club, hosted at Doubletree, Stadium:MK.

Clare will be giving business guests an overview of the Gallery’s work, and telling them about our capital expansion and redevelopment project.

Clare says: “I’m looking forward to sharing our development story with members of the Milton Keynes Business community. People often don’t realise the many different ways in which MK Gallery benefits our communities – and the many strands of activity taking place within the Gallery and in schools and organisations throughout Milton Keynes. The Gallery’s exhibitions are a fantastic source of inspiration, which act as an anchor for our publications, films, tours, workshops, talks and other events. It will be great to share the message about the breadth of our activity at this important time in the Gallery’s history.”

In her illustrated talk Clare will be highlighting the impact of the Gallery’s work and explaining why the forthcoming expansion is an important part of the infrastructure which will enable Milton Keynes to continue to thrive over the next twenty years and beyond.

If you’d like to know more about ways of supporting us – and naturally we hope you will – then please visit the Support Us page on our website.