Preview: The Scaled House @ The Stairwell Gallery
By Adam Clery on January 20, 2012 in Art & Design
The Stairwell Gallery, the in-house exhibition space run by art regeneration specialists Empty Shop, is on the verge or launching its latest project The Scaled House. Produced by local artist Julia Tyron, The Scaled House is a series of intricate photographic sculptures that look to “question what can be found to be secure, unwavering and enduring”.
With that in mind I bent the ear of Nick Malyan, one of the brains behind Empty Shop to find out why this is definitely more than some nice pictures on the stairs.
To the uninitiated, what is The Scaled House?
The Scaled House is the latest site-specific installation in Empty Shop’s Stairwell Gallery. It’s been created by Newcastle based artist Julia Tryon, who is an artist we really admire, and features sculptures made of large blown up photographs. The name of the show The Scaled House comes from the image that the photographs portray, an abandoned house that’s been left to decay and at the centre of it is this wonderful red staircase . Tryon says that staircase was what inspired her to start thinking about our Stairwell space where we only exhibit site specific installation art.
You mentioned that Julia Tryon is an artist Empty Shop admire, why is this?
Julia’s an artist we first came across a few years ago when she submitted to one of our open call exhibitions. She produced the most beautiful, detailed sculptural piece that was so small if fit inside a standard picture frame. It was a piece of art that really reflects what Julia is all about, an absolutely fierce attention to detail and instinct for line and shape that’s combined with a modesty that’s rare in artist of her quality.
That’s very similar to what Empty Shop set out to do in the very beginning, quietly changing the art world by giving artists a platform to show their work in surroundings that don’t have the ideological baggage of a white cube.
Can you tell me a little about The Stairwell Gallery? What is it? Why was it set up? What sort of exhibitions does it tend to host?
The Stairwell Gallery is a space in our building that we programme in a very particular way; site specific, commissioned installations. As with everything we do it’s not a traditional white cube gallery space. When we first moved into this building we loved the shape of the stairwell because it’s been carved up and then redistributed in the way only old buildings can be. So it has unusual angles throughout it and a high ceiling out of all proportion to the rest of the space, it also has loads of natural light and one of the best views of Durham cathedral going, so we produced our own postcard of the first ever installation we had in there, just to show it off a bit. There’s also the fact it’s first space people see when they come into the building so it makes sense to throw them an immediate curve ball by presenting something that isn’t on a canvas, in a frame or even on a plinth – that’s very unusual in Durham.
Previously we’ve shown an original series of wall paintings by James Adair and an installation of hanging sculptures made using fake hair and clay by Cardiff based Spike Dennis. The other key thing is that we leave all the work up for a good few months so it gets to become part of the architecture of the space and changes with time. With Spike’s work people came in and were immediately freaked out by these hanging hairy tendrils but within a few weeks regular visitors were just walking straight through them.
The Scaled House is on display at The Stairwell Gallery Durham, and the launch party is Friday the 20th January at 7pm. More info on the event here.
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