I am lucky enough to work in a cultural city where popping out for a bite of lunch also means stopping by the local art gallery too. No, I’m not in the East End of London or New York City, I’m talking about right here on Dewsbury Road in Beeston. So on a bright Monday afternoon walking between St. Luke’s CARES Charity shop and Subway I cross the lights and divert my course to sample a feast of art, right here on my doorstep.
Basement Arts Project is situated in a residential back to back house with a gallery in the basement. Local resident and artist, Bruce Davies has been helping to provide a free space for local and national artists to display their work here for over five years. The current exhibition is a collaborative piece of work funded by Leeds Inspired, with local artist Ian Pepper and members of the community. The result – ‘Welcome to my World‘, a series of mixed media collages from two workshops which took place at the Vale Circles day centre in October 2016.
This exhibit follows on from work done by Pepper between January-May 2016 named; ‘A Feast of Beeston’ were he spent time interviewing people in the area, displaying an an exhibition in May showing a series of pen, ink and pencil portraits, together with mixed digital media linked to audio documentation to depict scenes of daily life in Beeston. To fulfill the original criteria for the funding it was necessary for the work to include community engagement and two workshops with the public was organised with Paul Digby at the Vale Circles.
The title of exhibition ‘Welcome to my World’ happily lends itself to the feeling you get when walking down the stone steps down into the basement. Entering another world, the lights of the basement help keep the place warm and the main area where collages are displayed are in the well lit room. The collages are colourful bursts of mixed media with messages depicting the artists’ personal journeys. Participants at the Vale Circles were required to bring one significant object with them, and then to work around that to produce the art. The result being an expression of their lives through the collage whilst working alongside professional artists.
The other more curious exhibits lie in the more darkened area. Taking time for my eyes to adjust I see two stuffed guy Fawkes style models, and one with a birds head looking like it’s chirped straight out of a Max Ernst print. Apparently these static lodgers are representative of Ian’s significant objects to him. See if you can see other small hidden puppets of different kinds dotted about the space.
Since his exhibition in May, Pepper has continued to produce collages which has been the theme linked to the workshops. Originally there was only going to be one exhibition, however, after a successful run of the workshops Basement Arts decided it was only fair to bring the work back to the basement for one final exhibition helping to tie in the work together.
Bruce says ‘The exhibition has gone far beyond what they originally intended’
The work between artists and services users has illustrated a successful result of community engagement with the arts and provide a platform for future collaborative funding applications.
The artists involved in this collaborative piece of work were:
Claire Bentley Smith
And participants at the Vale Circles day centre.
Also thanks to Paul Digby and Will Morris at the Vale Circles
Saturday 3 and Sunday 4 December 2-4pm
Monday 5 December 11am – 2pm