INTERVIEW: Alan Hathaway | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image by Jason Hynes

In a previous solo show at Middlesbrough’s Platform A gallery, Whitley Bay-based artist Alan Hathaway expertly blended elements of the exhibition space and surrounding architecture to create a fully immersive experience where one might least expect it. This element of surprise from the studious expert in reductive modernity even extended the original run and an abstract approach to displaying; the outside looking in looking out. He’s also referenced song titles in his works before. We meet in the Laing Gallery café in Newcastle partly so he can go record shopping afterwards, and he’s in an affable mood telling me he’s recently had work shown in far flung locales. “Kiev, Melbourne…there’s one on in Sydney now, so it’s been a really busy year.”

Pineapple Black’s 24/7 Window has gained something of a reputation for provocative installations, so I asked the artist what we could expect from his adaptation of the space. “I like the idea of a work in progress and I think people are going to think ‘this guy is not quite finished what he’s doing here!’ But, it’s going to fill the whole space and I’ve been trying to use light more so it’s going to be predominantly light.” Referencing the Kinks song of the same name Alan continues, “It’s going to be called Where Have All The Good Times Gone?, so it’s about the shop window and the bankruptcy of shopping. There is a dystopian feel to the piece. Because essentially the high street has finished, it’s this idea of what would be left and how would you fill these spaces.”

There is a dystopian feel to the piece. Because essentially the high street has finished, it’s this idea of what would be left and how would you fill these spaces

Alan has always tried to avoid linear constructs and traditional approaches to displays, so the window is a challenge to that ethos. “Bobby [Benjamin, Pineapple Black co-founder] wanted it to tie into the painting show that is inside the gallery. A lot of my work has come out of thinking about painting but abstraction is a real interest of mine and really minimal, reduced painting that I latched onto very early on. I’m interested in the idea of painting as an expanded practice, so installation and the different use of different kinds of materials. The window is very much thinking about that; although it is a gallery space it is still a shop window and art is a commodity.

“Platform A raised a lot of questions for me pushing that idea of responding to specific spaces. So it is a response to the window and street situation. Suddenly it’s out of the gallery. There are certain types of art that are socially engaged and certain kinds that are in a white cube. My art tends to sit inside the white cube so I’m interested in getting work across both fields.”

Alan agrees that the Middlesbrough visual arts scene is particularly vibrant at the moment. “I’ve done more stuff in Middlesbrough [recently] and there’s a really nice feeling of experimentation there. Having lived in London, it can be kind of cut-throat, but here people would tap me on the shoulder and say, ‘do you want to do a show?’ And I love that organic way things develop. It’s nice if showing is just part of making,” that abstract thinking process again, “I just always keep making stuff!”

Where Have All The Good Times Gone? Is at Pineapple Black, Middlesbrough from Friday 1st-Saturday 30th November

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