INTERVIEW: LET US EAT CAKE | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image by Wild Lamb

No, you’re not mistaken – art galleries are indeed back up and running, ready to welcome visitors. It’s great news not only for cultural consumers, but also for the artists who have been cut off from their traditional means of exhibition. A prime example is North East collaborative duo Wild Lamb and Slutmouth, who have been waiting for the opportunity to unleash their creative ideas upon the region.

I met Paige [Livingstone, aka Wild Lamb] during the first Picasso Baby event at Disgraceland in Middlesbrough in 2019,” explains Bettie Hope, aka Slutmouth. “We got chatting and immediately hit it off. We said there and then we wanted to collaborate.” The feeling really was mutual, as Wild Lamb expands: “We had talked about it, but then COVID got in the way. When she got in touch with me this January, I was so ready to channel all my energy into something fun like Let Us Eat Cake and it just blew up from there.”

The brilliant thing about doing something yourself is that you get to make exactly what you want to see in the world. For Hope and Livingstone, their goal was simple: make a space created by working-class women to better represent this culturally under-represented group.

I totally wanted to tear down the idea of art being a rich white man’s scene, and it was also about making space for people. I know a lot of talented women and working-class people who will not exhibit their work out of nerves or fear that it isn’t good enough. By creating an artistic community to support and encourage people, we’re hoping to give some artists the confidence to take that first step towards building their creative career.” Says Livingstone, while Hope adds: “We are surrounded by such wonderful, talented female creatives in the North East. Since lockdown impacted us creatively and our creative network, we really wanted to give working-class artists an opportunity to be a part of Let Us Eat Cake.“

I totally wanted to tear down the idea of art being a rich white man’s scene

You might have caught part one of Let Us Eat Cake, as COVID-19 restrictions made it a digital affair: the online exhibition featured over seventy working-class, female identifying artists and attracted over 1,000 virtual visitors. Round two will bring a brand new set of artwork back into a physical space hosted at Middlesbrough contemporary art gallery Pineapple Black. With a diverse range of artistic formats on display for this project, including mixed media, 3D artwork and textiles, having a venue that could and would facilitate this ambition was essential.

Hope explains: “Pineapple Black was the first exhibition that I did out of University, and I think [founders and directors] Bobby [Benjamin] and Stephen [Irving] are awesome. They have really hyped us up, supported us and added to our crazy bouje ideas.” Livingstone agrees, saying: “The PB lads have been great to spot all ideas with, and also let us have free reign of how we want it to go.”

While an enforced year away from the arts isn’t what anyone wanted, time to reset and refresh, and to return with fresh eyes and new ideas is no bad thing. It looks like, for Wild Lamb and Slutmouth especially, we’re about to see some very exciting gallery spreads indeed.

Let Us Eat Cake is at Pineapple Black, Middlesbrough from Friday 25th June-Saturday 24th July

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