Gates Wide Open

This exhi­bi­tion at Sal­is­bury Arts Cen­tre is the result of an open call out for work by UK based grad­u­ates of the cre­ative dis­ci­plines who have been af

As a cultural organisation Wiltshire Creative recognises that in recent years a considerable blow to all areas of the arts industry has been dealt, and this was particularly felt amongst the students who experienced their creative learning via Zoom instead of the expected route of hands on skills and idea development: students who had their final exhibitions cancelled or moved online. We know that a tremendous effort has been made in making the virtual platform work and as a positive consequence many graduates reached a wider audience than they would have otherwise.

However, there are disciplines for which learning on the virtual platform is inadequate compared to the actual touch of the material and the immersiveness of a face to face encounter.

In the last two years publicly funded organisations have come in for criticism from various angles. One such was the accusation of stubborn gatekeeping by these organisations and the lack of commitment to work with emerging artists. Wiltshire Creative is a publicly funded organisation with a core commitment to working with young artists or artists entering their careers and to providing experience/ job opportunities for those who wish to work in the arts.

The panel of selectors for Gates Wide Open Exhibition comprised Zarina Muhammad and Gabrielle de la Puente (who are The White Pube) and @sadgrads2020 – Jody Mulvey.

This panel represents contemporary voices of professional arts activists who fight for the exposure and correct treatment of emerging ideas and talents. They had the difficult job of selecting the four artists for the Salisbury exhibition out of 87 strong submissions. The resulting selection of artistic practices is exciting and diverse.

Claudio Pestana’s work explores how a foreign non-binary person fits in within the ancient and symbolic traditions of conservative cultural markers of the English countryside. In the series ‘Fag Attacks the Country’ Pestana explores the intersection between their Queerness, the rural, and the tradition of portraiture and landscape painting subverting the tradition of the ‘conversation piece’.

The artist and designer Kialy Tihngang is interested in the inability of the human hand to replicate the accuracy and cleanness of mechanised objects, the inability of mechanised objects to replicate the spontaneity and rawness of the human hand, and the tension elicited when those principles are played with. ‘Useless Machines’ exhibited here are a darkly humorous response to electronic waste dumping, the neo-colonialist practice of wealthy countries dumping their electronic waste (such as old phones and laptops) in poorer countries, typically of the Global South. This artwork is a commentary on the endless overconsumption of useful machinery that we generate in affluent countries.

Li An Lee’s practice examines the development of a person’s character/self-development and the flow of input into a life. Lee’s work highlights play as part of the everyday life of a child, and examines how the environment hinders independence. Her photographic installations and sculptural light boxes also act as documentary portraits capturing an aspect of the wonderment of childhood. Each image freezes a moment of movement, capturing every day from a unique angle, effecting surveillance and the ‘mother’s gaze’.

Liv Collins is an emerging writer and feminist curator whose artistic practice revolves around themes of celebration, giving, and queer identity. Collins’ practice is an intersection of poetry and visual art. She aims to break through the turgid boundaries of modern poetry, through the creation of playful and accessible poems. The piece in this exhibition is called 'linguistic confetti'. It is an immersive artwork created amid the pandemic. The work navigates the experience of not being able to see her Welsh grandparents for over a year and is is about celebration, cultural identity and play, as much as it is about loneliness.