Nestled within the creative hub of Yellow Arch Studios, the new White Room Gallery is bringing the visual arts to a space that's more widely recognised for music. The White Room Gallery continues the trend of using alternative, often post-industrial buildings for creative purposes, which has made Kelham Island one of Sheffield’s main creative hotspots over the last ten years. It's fitting, then, that its first exhibition deals with themes of place, site and location.
Curated by Bridget Murray, Sense of Place takes a closer look at how we define, navigate and care for the space we find ourselves living within. With around 70 works by 30 artists, from as near as Sheffield to international offerings from Belgium, the exhibition brings works in dialogue with one another that perhaps wouldn’t traditionally find a way of meeting.
Murray was keen to present the work of artists who are making interesting and progressive work but who are also dealing with current political concerns. Conversations around the shifting nature and "use value" of post-industrial landscapes are evident throughout many of the works, including a powerful painting by Sheffield-based artist Sean Williams. Standout pieces by Ellen Paige-Leach and Matt Midwood have been cleverly placed beside one another to encourage conversations around new and traditional production techniques. While many people locally and regionally are questioning their relationship to national identity, Sense of Place seems very timely, and Murray manages to slip political undertones into an exhibition that has a beautiful aesthetic outlook.
The gallery itself is full of character and has clearly had multiple purposes in the past. Unlike in other exhibition venues in the city that appear more like traditional white cubes, the noticeable features of this space – a large dining table, various permanent structural elements – almost act as a curatorial presence in themselves, making certain decisions and pre-defining where certain pieces can be hung. By staging exhibitions in spaces like this, curators not only open people's eyes to fantastic artwork but also allow audiences the privilege of exploring parts of fascinating buildings that may not normally be open to public access.
The future of the space is undetermined, but Yellow Arch Studios are interested in using it for a variety of projects. Head down to Sense of Place before it ends to enjoy its combination of great artwork and one of the most unique exhibition spaces in the city.
Open every day 11am-6pm.
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- David McLeavy
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