FEATURE: The Biscuit Factory and The Art Retail Network Launch New App | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Every artwork, no matter how large or small, has a story behind it. Sometimes these stories are complex and deep, while other times they’re just that little bit quirky or funny. Unfortunately, though, we don’t always get to find out about the illuminating stories behind the artworks we see, meaning we’re not always getting the full picture (no pun intended). This can be a real thorn in the side of enthusiasts looking to find out more about the lives and inspirations behind great artworks.

It’s a problem that the Biscuit Factory, critically acclaimed artist John Brenton and the Art Retail Network identified. After looking for partners to work with to help enhance the experience of art lovers, the Art Retail Network teamed up with the Newcastle-based gallery and Brenton to develop a brand new app. The app, which launches on Friday 5th June at the Biscuit Factory to coincide with the launch of Brenton’s new exhibition, is designed to help visitors find out more about the artwork on display in the words of the artists themselves.

Rachel Brown, the Biscuit Factory’s General Manager, understood the general lack of connection between artist and gallery-goer that the Art Retail Network had identified before the project even began. “It’s not always possible for artists to physically accompany their exhibitions,” she says. “In their absence, the app can be the way to build a greater connection between the viewer, the artist, the gallery and the work.” The Art Retail Network also know that we know expect to have easily accessible information on a variety of subjects at our fingertips. “We want to know how something was made, who made it, why they made it, the backstory,” they say. “This information can now be made easily available for every piece of original artwork.”

But how does the app work to develop a connection between artist and viewer? The Art Retail Network have kindly explained the concept behind the app. “It’s really simple to use,” they say. “After downloading the app to a smartphone or tablet, visitors point the device at any enabled artwork. The app recognises the image and triggers audio and video content that reveals the story behind the piece, as told by the artist.” In essence, you can have your own artist-led tour whenever you like.

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“It will allow people to connect with art and artists on a much deeper level”

It’s hoped that the app will have a big impact on the way in which we experience galleries and consume art, especially for those potentially intimidated by contemporary art and want to understand it. “It will allow people to connect with art and artists on a much deeper level,” Art Retail Network explain. “It also has the potential to democratise the language of art, opening up the conversation around art to entirely new audiences.”

Rachel is hopefully that the app will greatly enhance the experience of visitors to the Biscuit Factory. “My feeling is that the app will build on our visitors’ experience by giving them information in a simple, interesting and interactive format and also, because it’s something they can take away with them, it will mean that their connection to the gallery, the artist and the work continues long after their visit.”

In the near future, the Art Retail Network will be working with more artists and galleries in order to continue refining the app. In the short-term the app will be available to a small group of artists and galleries such as the Biscuit Factory. “We’re getting a lot of interest right now, but it’s important for us to work with galleries and artists that really buy into what we’re trying to do and the ethos of our company,” they say. The development of the app makes this a highly exciting time for the people behind the Art Retail Network and art lovers.

For Rachel and the Biscuit Factory, it’s hoped that the app will be the start of a long and fruitful partnership between the gallery and the Art Retail Network. “They’ve been wonderful to work with,” she says. “I hope this is just the beginning of how we may work together.”

The new app launches at the Biscuit Factory on Friday 5th June. It will be available to use and view at the venue until the end of John Brenton’s latest exhibition on Monday 31st August.

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