East & South Notts and Nottingham

Nottingham showing of world-class neon artworks set to be highlight for Light Night

Nottingham showing of world-class neon artworks set to be highlight for Light Night

Hopkinson Gallery, in collaboration with The Creative Quarter Company and Nottingham City Council, is proud to present a unique show ‘Mercury and Electric Shocks’, as part of the ‘Seen This?’ project, two new exhibitions which the Nottingham public can look forward to over the next three months.  ‘Mercury and Electric Shocks’ is an exclusive collection of neon artworks by acclaimed artists, to be shown at Hopkinson Gallery on Station Street.

Curated by Andy Collishaw and Izzy Watts, this exhibition features the cream of British and international contemporary artists who are bringing their work to Nottingham especially for the city’s Light Night event on Friday 28 February. What makes this exhibition extraordinary is that these works have been in private collections and have never before seen together by the public outside London.

Featuring neon-based works by Franko B. Stefan Bruggeman, Tracey Emin, Gilbert & George, Sarah Lucas, Kerry Ryan and Gavin Turk, this show is a unique experience.

Andy Collishaw, one of the two curators, whose idea it was to bring these works to the city, describes the exhibition,  “The neon artworks are lustrous and beguiling; the space is quirky and charming; the artists are simultaneously renowned yet derided (by some), loved and hated, but certainly not  to be ignored. This show is set to delight and amuse by presenting neon art at its most provocative and fascinating.”

Izzy Watts, Co-curator at Hopkinson Gallery, is delighted to be hosting this show and commented: “Hopkinson Gallery is a new and emerging gallery in the city and we’ve only been open since October. To have these artists in our space is simply mind-blowing. We offer a unique setting for audiences to experience contemporary art above an unconventional independent shop. This show offers the audience the opportunity to view artworks of high calibre by a high-profile group of artists outside the typical gallery space. In our gallery the artworks are given a new context, shown in a reclaimed gallery space on the top floor of an industrial Georgian building in Nottingham city centre.”

One of the participating artists is world renowned artist Sarah Lucas, who comes from the generation of Young British Artists who emerged during the 1990s. Her work frequently employs visual playfulness and bawdy humour. When asked how she feels about her work being exhibited in the Hopkinson – a cranky old vintage shop with a gallery on top – she replies “It sounds like a shop in my own image.”

Having commanded many solo shows herself, there is a natural curiosity as to how she feels about being in a group show and in a regional gallery “I’m all for regional shows – great that people get to see some stuff without having to travel to London and much less snobby.”  Sarah Lucas has this to say about working in the very special medium of Neon “I like light in general.  I’ve made a few coffins, one with cigarettes and one, prior to the neon, out of cardboard that had a long fluorescent tube inside – six footer – the lid was ajar so it glowed from within.  Just being optimistic about death I suppose in the sense that the energy still exists as energy.”

Gavin Turk, another British artist with international repute, also enjoys working with neon. He says “I enjoy the fact that it’s a like a signifier of a signifier, it’s always a sign of a sign.  Somehow it’s the idea that if you’re playing with pictures, neon’s already two spaces away from the picture. I quite like the physicality and the science of neon as well.  Hopkinson Gallery has got great character.  It adds a little bit more of a dimension to the context.  That’s the same with a group show, by showing in them your work gets seen in different contexts.”

This is not the first time Gavin Turk has exhibited in Nottingham who has previously had an event at Clumber Park.

The opening of this show is set to be the highlight of Nottingham’s Light Night, with superlative neon works of art, drinks and canapés, live music and late night shopping at Hopkinson Vintage, Antiques and Arts Centre; as well as a hub of culture for Nottingham during the six weeks it is open to the public.

Cllr David Trimble, Nottingham City Council Portfolio Holder for Culture and Leisure, said: “It’s great to see new work being brought into Nottingham.  I’m glad that we have been able to support the Creative Quarter and have been able to help them secure funding from the Arts Council of England to make this show happen.  This will be a unique addition to the many other activities taking place on Light Night in the city and shows how many communities and artists are now making Light Night their own.”

The exhibition is being funded by The Arts Council and supported by The Creative Quarter Company, who are working closely with Hopkinson Gallery and the curators to bring the exhibition to Nottingham audiences. How does this exhibition fit with the work of The Creative Quarter Company? Cllr Nick McDonald, Portfolio Holder for Jobs and Growth believes this kind of activity is central to what the Creative Quarter Initiative is all about: “This is fantastic news. The Hopkinson Gallery is a real asset for Nottingham and the Creative Quarter, and securing this funding allows it to continue to put on leading exhibitions like this.”

‘Mercury & Electric Shocks’ opens on Friday 28 February with a private viewing between 6pm-7.30pm as part of Nottingham’s Light Night. Artist Mat Collishaw who hails from Nottingham and is one of its most successful contemporary artists will be giving a talk on the night.   The show is open to the public from 7.30pm – 10pm on Light Night.

The exhibition will also be open to the public until Tuesday 15 April 2014. Hopkinson Gallery is open Monday to Saturday 10am – 6pm, Sunday 11am – 4pm. Hopkinson is to be found at 21 Station Street, NG2 3AJ (just along from the train station).   This exhibition is the first of two shows taking place at Hopkinson Gallery, as part of the ‘Seen This?’ series. Keep your eyes peeled for the second show which will be coming soon.