As we approach the twelfth month of lockdown, in one form or another, here at BasementArtsProject we also acknowledge that it is also a year since we were last able to open our doors to the public. Hull based artist Lou Hazelwood has had the longest exhibition in the history of our organisation, opening in May 2020 and finally being taken down in December 2020, despite only being physically accessible to the public for about a month like any other exhibition.
Not to be beaten by the bug, we decided that we would explore ways in which we could continue whilst our access to the Real-World was prohibited. By May we had the usual page of exhibition documentation up for Lou’s exhibition with photographs and essays, but this time it included a video virtual walk-around accompanied by a conversation between myself and the artist. www.basementartsproject.com/landscapes-of-the-unknown
Across the year we replaced our Real-World programme with a virtual one. BasementArtsProject’s online Studio Journal, normally used to present other work by people exhibiting at The Basement as documentation of their practice, was handed over to any artist that wished to present work during lockdown. Since the beginning of last April, the Lockdown Journal has presented photography, drawing, painting, poetry, documentation of new works in production, diary’s and essays.
Having had to delay every single artist in our 2020 programme we did manage to realise one more project in February 2021. My Kingdom For A Croissant by Wakefield based sculptor Nicholas Vaughan was due to open in December 2020, looking at the subject of Brexit and our current government’s attitude towards race and immigration. As a temporary substitute for this exhibition, BasementArtsProject created an online 3D virtual gallery space and placed a selection of Nick’s work in it. We hope to realise the full Real-World exhibition in November 2021. Watch this space . . .
We then had a launch for the project online in which people could interact with myself and Nick online via Instagram whilst walking around the virtual space. We are hoping to be able to realise the Real-World version at BasementArtsProject in November 2021.
Many artists live double lives during normal times never mind during a global pandemic, as rarely does artwork alone pay the bills for most. Recent Lockdown Journal posts by artist Chloe Harris depict her life as a key worker for the Amazon Warehouse in Leeds, whilst locked down as an artist.
Online is of course no substitute for the real world, art relies as much on its interactions and the kind of discussions that happen through chance encounters. At BasementArtsProject we recognise the importance of getting people together to look at, discuss and get involved in creativity as part of a daily routine. This year BasementArtsProject turns 10 years old, and regardless of the lockdown situation we will be celebrating that -online or off. But more about how we will be doing that soon.
As lockdown continues, and we speculate further about the point at which we will be able to gather together again, artists will continue to tend the light at the end of the tunnel. Preparation for a world desperate for change but worth returning to . . . . . .
Join us next time as we talk about a decade of experimental art and living in South Leeds and how we intend to celebrate that . . . .
Bruce Davies | February 2021