FEATURE: #UNTITLED10 2019 | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Lady Kitt by Sofia Barton

Over 100 years ago John and Joséphine Bowes constructed a magnificent building to house their private collection of fine and decorative arts in Barnard Castle. If they were alive today, Channel 4 would probably make a frivolous documentary about them and call it John and Josie – Big House Hoarders. But now, as one of the North East’s foremost visitor attractions, the Bowes legacy continues to inspire a diverse range of craft makers and contemporary artists.

Building on the success of #Untitled10 last year, 10 new artists are in residence at Bowes Museum from Friday 11th October until Friday 28th February. Their creative works will be installed around the museum, in spaces and alongside the pieces which inspired them.

Lady Kitt, Newcastle-based maker, activist, researcher and drag king uses paper cutting and performance to create objects, events and interactions. Highlighting LGBTQ+ interpretations and stories, they’re creating a five foot paper chain of Sappho, a fifth century Greek poet, who wrote passionate love poems to both women and men. “Sod all is known about her really and she’s been represented in a wide (and wild) variety of ways through history: from tragic suicidal lesbian to kick ass queer icon.” Says Lady Kitt. “Each figure in the chain depicts a different version of her – from the strict headmistress of a girl’s school to Sappho Twitter bot – which publishes lines of her work every two hours on Twitter.”

the Bowes legacy continues to inspire a diverse range of craft makers and contemporary artists

Sunderland-born artist Joanne Howell uses photographic practices to connect with the collection. Through her research, she discovered a dark and brutal story of domestic abuse. “My original way in to the project was through the botany cabinet; one of the very few objects in the collection that John Bowes had from his grandmother. She was seen as a decadent woman of very loose morals, and was a long-term victim of extreme domestic abuse. Her perceived misdemeanours were recorded in a vicious court case. I hope to incorporate the botanical cabinet, and pages from The Confessions of Strathmore, reclaiming Mary Eleanor Bowes from an object of oppression to a celebration of female intellect and resilience.”

Light sculptor Jim Bond, who specialises in creating dynamic kinetic structures and forms will create a modern animatronic view of the Silver Swan’s neck. As one of the most complex working automata in the world, and the icon of the museum, he’s had privileged access to its inner workings to see what makes it tick. “My work is centred around movement and interaction. In contrast to the original swan neck, which follows a track on a large rotating cam, my swan neck will be operated by a stepper motor following a coded programme and projected onto a translucent screen.”

Other artists in residence include cabinet maker Andrew Hutchinson, embroidery artist Claire A Baker, origami and katagami artist Caroline Collinge, Richard Bliss whose piece is inspired by a punch up, ceramicist Judy DiBiase, award-winning sculptor Kate Ive and print artist Sara Cooper.

#Untitled10 2019 is at Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle from Friday 11th October to Friday 28th February

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