This exhibition has provided an opportunity for artists who are based in North East England to make new work and develop their practice.
All the artists showing at National Glass Centre share a sense of nostalgia for an old England, a kind of meta-nostalgia - a meditation on the nature of nostalgia - that re-examines and re-contexulises ideas, designs, images and objects made at different times, from different places and for different purposes in today’s contemporary England.
Samar Asamoah combines her interests of Islamic pattern and acknowledges the tradition of English stained glass in a new glass installation. Mimi Joung laments the demise of English china through her collection and reconfiguration of charity shop tableware. Track and Place explores the idea of the north/south divide, initiated by artists inspired by Robin Crozier’s Sunderland-based mail art projects of the 1970’s and 1980’s. Nicky Coutts presents images responding to English heritage developed during her recent residency at the Berwick Gymnasium Fellowship and Susan Diab investigates her mixed Northern English and Arab (Syrian) background. The result is a version of Oh I do like to be beside the seaside!, which can be heard outside, on the approach to National Glass Centre.
In some ways this exhibition reflects not just the artists’ views on English identity but also the identity of the artists themselves. Some have roots that extend far from Britain but have currently made their home in North East England, and some have roots in the North East but now live and work in southern England. These connections to the North East provide an interesting way to think of each artists work for North + South, to see how their roots influence their work and their take on English national identity.
Photo: Colin Davison
AN magazine review of North + South