The Place of the Scene

Bloc Projects
- , 2015

Tickets: Free

It's a new era at Bloc, as it launches its expanded gallery space with a group show on the intersection of the physical, mental and digital.

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For as long as I can remember Bloc Projects has played a key role in the development of the visual arts in Sheffield, working with a vast array of local, national and international artists and keeping the city alive with activity. Previously operating from a smaller gallery, which doubled up as a venue for performance events and film screenings, Bloc hosted a dense programme of exhibitions that really made the most of the space.

Fast forward a few months – during which time the whole team have put in a lot of hard graft and done some fantastic fundraising, topped up through crowdfunding – and the new Bloc gallery space is launched. Bloc now has more room to work with, including more storage and reception facilities, not to mention a street-facing entrance that will hopefully draw in new visitors. At a time of arts funding issues and as the historic area around the gallery undergoes change, this transformation is vital for Sheffield. I have no doubt that the team at Bloc will make the most of the development, which puts them in an even better position to shape the city's cultural image.

Launching alongside the new gallery is an exhibition of new and existing work by Rowena Harris, Fay Nicolson, Joanne Masding and Francesco Pedgralio. The Place of the Scene looks at the crossovers and potential slippages between the physical, mental and digital. The works are rather gestural, in that they draw attention to the moments of their inception and production. No more so than Fay Nicolson’s Slight of Hand, in which the artist echoes the act of washing and cleaning the gallery walls but does so with a bright blue watercolour. It reinforces the relationship between this new gallery and the artwork within, as each relies on the finishing of the other.

Rowena Harris’s new work, And as a veil rather than solid. And as skin rather than sight, takes its title from a line in a book by philosopher Michel Serres. It considers the gallery’s former use as a site for the production of tuning forks. Sculptural works resembling the forks are installed across the wall at heights corresponding to different anatomical points. Head, hands, chest cavity and maxilla (sinus) – each sculpture echoes the bodily frequency to match each point.

The Place of the Scene marks the start of a new era at Bloc Projects, one that looks set to be defined by great ambition and shows of the highest quality. Spaces like Bloc Projects help to keep the visual arts alive in Sheffield – at an exciting time in the organisation's development, let's all go and give it the recognition it deserves. I, for one, can't wait for the next show!

Image: And as a veil rather than solid. And as skin rather than sight. Rowena Harris, 2015. Still from digital video.

Written by David McLeavy; September 10, 2015

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