In The Open

Air pollution, fracking, the cutting down of trees – complex and controversial environmental issues are everywhere in Sheffield at the moment. How do we understand a place in a time of accelerating environmental change? How can we work together to respond? Do artists have anything to show us about the potential of collaboration?

In The Open is an exhibition of work by over 60 artists from around the world taking place at the SIA Gallery and Bank Street Arts from 6 to 28 September that aims to explore these questions.

The art on display is a variety of media – artists’ books, paintings, sculptures, photographs, object installations and videos – but each work has been produced in a collaborative process by at least two different artists. Some artists have worked together for years, others have paired up specifically for this exhibition. All of them respond to ideas about landscape, place, ecology and environment.

A wide variety of locations are considered, from the former Watt’s cutlery building in Sheffield to the Mississippi Delta, from wetlands to moorlands, from a coal mine in Wales to data-mined simulations of extreme weather in a future Ireland, from disused canals in Lincolnshire to the river Ouse passing through York City Centre, from gardens in Los Angeles to wildflower meadows on Uist, from Singapore’s rainforest to the Langsett reservoir, from stones to sticks to mud to mark to bark to beak to bits and bytes and back.

There are collaborations that use technology to facilitate long-distance conversation and collaborations, where the artists have gone on walks together from their back doors to a local field. Artists have undertaken archaeological excavations, plunged into freezing waters, lived for three days down a lead mine, followed the ghost of William Wordsworth up Snowdon, cut patterns into heather. They’ve trespassed, got lost, gathered together and set down.

Artistic techniques include: audio recording, big data, cutting, dyeing, exquisite corpse, frottage, gleaning, hanging, illustrating, jujitsu, kerning, lacing, mapping, note taking, ordering, programming, quilling, repeating, sticking, typing, uttering, vanishing, weeding, xerography, zen.

The exhibition opens at 7pm on 6 September with a free poetry reading by 13 poets from the UK, USA and Australia at Bank Street Arts, curated by Electric Arc Furnace.

For more information, check out the online catalogue at

Words: Andrew Jeffrey









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