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

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Image by Willie Doherty

Middlesbrough Art Weekender returns for its third year from Thursday 26th-Sunday 29th September in multiple venues across the town, and this year the theme is autonomy. Featuring an eclectic range of local, international, emerging and established artists, the Weekender is now the biggest annual contemporary arts festival in the North East, and a key player in Middlesbrough’s flourishing cultural scene. This year will see the festival initiate a ‘town takeover’ with workshops, exhibitions and happenings throughout the town exploring the autonomy theme framed by current economic and political realities.

The Auxiliary’s 10,000sq ft warehouse with two galleries, studios and performance space (flagship of MAW19) will house works by Willie Doherty, twice nominated Turner Prize artist, among others, which will include his esteemed work about the Northern Irish border. The Platform Gallery at the end of Platform 1 in Middlesbrough train station will have their own programme still to be confirmed, while across Exchange Square Base Camp will host local feminists Hun Collective. After the success of their involvement in Sonic Arts Week in July, Middlesbrough Town Hall will host ADA, a huge, immersive, interactive and audience friendly installation using a huge charcoal studded helium balloon that moves around the room making marks on the floors and walls as it goes in a purpose built gallery in the main hall. It’s accessible and fun for all ages, as visitors are encouraged to make and be part of the art. ADA is an internationally renowned work by artist Karina Smigla Bobinski, and the work has travelled across five continents to reach Teesside and as such is not to be missed.

the Weekender is now the biggest annual contemporary arts festival in the North East

Across Centre Square from the Town Hall, MIMA will be screening Warren Harrison’s film The Creek, a depiction of life off-grid in the Greatham Creek community from the 1920s to the 1980s, which should be of particular interest to fans of social discordance and dystopian themes.

Of the other artists and collectives involved over the weekend, NE Open Call will be working with MIMA to showcase ten regional artists as part of the weekend’s programming; Darlington’s Crown Street Library resident Lady Kitt will present her idiosyncratic work; there will be a Northern Film and Media residency including photographer and lens-based artists Alyson Agar and Nick Williams; while Lisa Lovebucket will be presenting her initial work for Mission: Cultural Ascendancy of Teesside, all three in partnership with The Auxiliary and Vlogbase, a software start-up based in Middlesbrough. John Jordan and Isa Fernaux will also be present with a talk/workshop based on autonomous communities – John Jordan is an artist and activist who co-founded the movement Reclaim the Street (1995-2001).

Elsewhere, local artist Emily Hesse will be giving a day-long performance in thirteen parts across various venues, so keep your eyes peeled and ears open for them. And Sacha Rowe, another local artist, will be giving a workshop on using wildflowers as dye.

This is just the tip of the artistic iceberg, as Middlesbrough prepares to be flooded with eclectic creative diversions. What’s more, all events are free or pay what you decide.

Middlesbrough Art Weekender takes place at various venues across Middlesbrough from Thursday 26th-Sunday 29th September

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