Preview: Friday 30 November, 6-8pm
Neon features artists who have used or subverted neon lighting in works that resonate with the spirituality of human experience or present a moment to pause and think about the nature of sacredness. Do the elevated emotions associated with religious festivals conflict with reason, the secular and ordinary aspects of everyday life? Can we experience a sense of sacred meaning and inspiration in the secular?
Neon is inspired, in art, by the monastic sites of Wearmouth and Jarrow and their founder Benedict Biscop. He brought stonemasons to build his revolutionary monastery (the first stone building in the kingdom of Northumbria), and artisans from Gaulle who made the first stained glass windows for the monastery. Glass as a transmitter of light had a symbolic significance. Light was an analogy for the Divine - 'I am the Light of the World'.
Neon presents Fiona Banner’s Every Word Unmade, 26 letters of the alphabet formed in neon; bent, shaped and blown by the artist, recalling the pictographic scripts of early forms of communication. The work acknowledges neon’s allure, its relationship with advertising and ability to speak to us on a primitive level.
Much of Alec Finlay’s art has considered notions of ‘shared consciousness’, whether in collaborations with other artists and makers, or in open invitational projects where many people share the same frame or possibility.
This neon, your name here, can be seen within this context. Whose name is intended to fill this space: we are all invited to imagine ourselves ‘in light’.
Richard Meitner has been working in glass for over 30 years. His treatment of glass is poetic, reflecting an eclectic range of interests and influences, from Japanese and Italian artwork, to that of science, animals, age and decay.
History is an elegant and intriguing work that suggests neon, but is in fact, lit by the modest flame of an oil lamp.
Vong Phaophanit’s work is linked to his origins and background in Laos, a former French colony, bordered by Vietnam. Neon Rice Field was made for the Turner Prize exhibition in 1993 for which Phaophanit was nominated. The installation consists of neon lights that emit a seductive glow from beneath the surface of translucent grains of American Long Grain rice.
An essay by Paul Usherwood, Senior Lecturer of Art History at Northumbria University, will accompany the exhibition.
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