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

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Whether you’re a Guerilla Girl or part of the San Francisco Mime Troupe, it seems that the namesake of an arts collective is often pretty central to the nature of their work. But for Newcastle-based up-and-comers MILK? Not so much.

“We always get asked the same questions about the name. Does it stand for anything? What does it mean? There’s no clever answer, though.” Laughs photographer Matt Wilkinson. “The name doesn’t actually mean anything – it came from an afternoon of desperately shouting words at each other as we needed something to launch the website. We thought MILK was neutral enough to not demand too much attention, but perhaps we were wrong!”

They were indeed. An artist-led collective launched in Byker, MILK have been gathering notoriety at an alarming pace since their formation in 2015. Following a residency at WORKPLACE (This is It, Isn’t It?) and the successful run of their latest exhibition in London (People See Nothing at Division of Labour), the group are returning once again to the region, hitting House of Blah Blah this month.  If you haven’t heard of them yet, it might just be the time to prick up your ears.
“MILK started in November 2015 from communal money left over from funding the Newcastle University Degree Show, which is where we all met.  With this small pot of cash left over, we wanted to put it towards putting on some exhibitions.”

Basically, we have a real DIY attitude of making it happen for yourself, rather than waiting for it to happen

Much like their contemporaries at the NewBridge project, each member of MILK had the same goal – to offer time, exposure, and room for artistic growth.
“We felt that despite there being a lot of artists in Newcastle, there wasn’t much exhibition opportunity on offer to graduates and emerging artists, like ourselves.” Continues Matt. Basically, we have a real DIY attitude of making it happen for yourself, rather than waiting for it to happen. We operate as an open platform, where people can get involved as much as they want – we each have different roles and styles.”

It’s clear that they’re a headstrong bunch. But has anything changed since they found success in the big smoke?

“I feel like the aura of London is fast-dissipating.” Quips Matt. “It is still a great place, with tons of amazing galleries. If you want to develop your career, it’s an important pitstop for any UK-based artist. But the arts scene has become so saturated, the costs are too high to live and make work, and there just isn’t any time or space. I think a lot of artists are realising these facts at the moment, though I’m not so sure about gallerists and collectors…”

He goes on to discuss our region’s artistic allure.
“What Newcastle offers us at the minute is perfect.  It offers time, space and affordability – It gives us the chance to be artists and to make work, without as much of the financial restraints of London.  From that, I think our work as a collective has been able to develop further.”

M I L K will be bringing two shows to House of Blah Blah after Saturday 9th September.

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