Behind The Scenes, 9 October 2019: Tactile Change and the Mariner
by Jo Clarke, Marketing and Communications Officer
Autumn in Plymouth always brings some interesting exhibitions with it and this year is no exception. Although our ‘On Tour’ programme has wound down so we can focus on what we need to do on site, we are continuing to work in partnership with other cultural organisations in the city.
There are two exhibitions currently on display that we have lent our support to. Both of them are free to visit and can be viewed in their respective venues until 16 November. The first is ‘Tactile Change’ which features the work of artist Matthew Raw. It’s on display in The Gallery at Plymouth College of Art which is open from 9am-5pm Monday to Friday and 10am-1pm on Saturdays.
The exhibition builds on previous work that Raw has done with clay, and responds to the history of Plymouth Zoo which opened in 1962 and closed in 1978. He’s used this as a starting point to explore themes about progress, migration and change. As we approach Brexit these are obviously topical subjects. They take on even more meaning given that Raw was born in England but is now based in France!
Three pieces make up the exhibition. ‘The Long Read’ is a series of five terracotta prints – the making of one is pictured above. They’ve been taken from hand-carved wooden blocks and each feature a different slogan.
‘Progress’ is the second piece and is described by Raw as an ‘interactive mural of hand-rolled text tiles’.
‘Routemaster’ is a fence-like structure that runs throughout the gallery. It’s clad in ceramic tiles that have been hand-printed with elephant designs by students from Plymouth’s School of Creative Arts. Once you’re in the gallery you quickly realise that the fencing has been designed in a way that restricts your movement and which dictates how you navigate your way around the exhibition. Food for thought.
The second exhibition we’re supporting is ‘Mariner: a painted ship upon a painted ocean’. It’s at The Arts Institute’s Levinsky Gallery on the University of Plymouth’s campus. A copy of the official press release can be found here. You can visit it from 10am-5pm Monday to Friday and 11am-4pm on Saturdays.
The exhibition really brings the historic and the contemporary together as it’s inspired by world-famous poem, ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) and features film, sculpture, photography and more by 15 different contemporary artists.
Our particular favourite is ‘Assembly’ by Nigerian-born artist Mary Evans (pictured in the background in the image above). Made from paper and vinyl and running along a large section of the gallery wall, it explores Plymouth’s material culture. It also includes images of objects from our collections that have links with the city’s maritime heritage. These include a pair of 18th century shoes, an ornate fan, a beautiful cabinet from our historically significant Cottonian Collection and the Drake’s Cup.
A programme of talks and film screenings is running over the next few weeks and will explore the themes in the exhibition in even more detail. ‘Mariner’ will also tour nationally which is really exciting! It’s set to travel to venues in Bath and Southampton in 2020.
It is an ancient Mariner
And he stoppeth one of three.
‘By thy long grey beard and glittering eye,
Now wherefore stopp’st thou me?
If you haven’t yet visited them, make sure you catch both these exhibitions while they remain on display. We’ll be sharing more images from them on our Facebook page and Twitter feed over the next couple of days.