FEATURE: Middlesbrough Art Trail | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Artwork by Gordon Dalton, Life is Hard that’s why no one survives. Exhibiting at The Auxiliary

Ordinarily, this month would have seen Middlesbrough Art Weekender bring art lovers from across the region to the town to visit a multitude of galleries, museums and unusual creative spaces. While we may not be doing ‘ordinary’ this year, MAW’s organisers couldn’t let the month pass without opening their doors and showcasing the array of arty goodness on offer, so the loosely themed Middlesbrough Art Trail has been revealed.

The art trail will take place from Friday 18th September until mid-October at The Auxiliary, Platform A and Pineapple Black.There is a very correlative and cohesive creative scene in Middlesbrough and it is really exciting to not only have three credible, independent art spaces in such close proximity, but also to harmonise on initiatives such as this. Pineapple Black has been re-opened for a while now and we can’t wait to celebrate our friends The Auxiliary and Platform A joining us on Friday 18th with a superlative programme of exhibitions.Says Pineapple Black’s Bobby Benjamin.

Pineapple Black’s contribution will see the work of sixty contemporary artists go on display in their Hillstreet Shopping Centre gallery. The artists have made new works in response to a postcard version of Diego Velázquez’s masterpiece Las Meninas. Titled Enough Is Definitely Enough, the Spanish painter’s work has famously been reinterpreted by the likes of Picasso, Richard Hamilton and Goya and the exhibition has been curated by Andrew Bracey as part of his PhD research at the University of Lincoln. “He is exploring how contemporary artists have used and appropriated existing paintings by other artists, through a position of using the metaphor of the parasite and symbiosis in connection with painting.” Artists taking part include gallery directors Bobby and Stephen Irving, as well as fellow locals Gordon Dalton, Raymond Bentley and Philip Gatenby, plus internationally recognised talent including Fiona Curren, Cathy Lomax, Pip Dickens, Juan Bolivar, Louise Bristow and many more.

There is a very correlative and cohesive creative scene in Middlesbrough

Local artist Gordon Dalton gets his own solo show over at The Auxiliary. “We are beyond excited to be back and to be reopening with a solo exhibition by Gordon Dalton is just the cherry on top.” Says artistic director Liam Slevin. “Gordon has supported numerous artists with his work through Creative Factory and we are glad to now support him. He has also been prolific throughout lockdown and it is an honour to show his work, in the flesh, at The Auxiliary.” Gordon’s paintings are landscapes, but not of one place; described as “an invention, full of contrasts and spontaneity…[that] reside somewhere between fantasy, nostalgia and a decorative beauty”. Using familiar motifs like boats, clouds, birds, dark skies and trees, the images combine memories of places he’s lived, visited or longingly imagined. “The work has always been influenced by the coast and country of post-industrial Teesside.” Gordon explains. “To have a show of this scale locally, where my art education started 30 years ago, means a lot to me as it opens on the eve of my 50th birthday, especially at The Auxiliary, who are very supportive of artists here.”

Rounding the trio of shows off at Platform A is Placed, an exhibition of work from Northern School of Art lecturer and gallery director Jonathan Chapman. Drawing on the practice of photography – seeking an image out, rather than creating it like a painting – Chapman’s work fuses the DNA of the region’s industrial heritage, the inspiration he finds in classic artworks and the ability of photography to document a narrative. “My camera is my dog, it changes me from sad loner to purposeful flaneur. When I returned to this region, like a dog, I wanted to be outside exploring this new familiar place.” He explains. “I didn’t want to be in my studio sniffing oil paint, stuck inside the genre of still life. I wanted to move across landscapes, cut across genres; photography let me do this.”

The Middlesbrough Art Trail takes place from Friday 18th September-mid October at Pineapple Black, The Auxiliary and Platform A Gallery in Middlesbrough

NOTE: Official launch parties on Friday 18th will no longer take place, but all three venues will be participating throughout the exhibition period. Please check individual venue websites for opening hours

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