9 artists transform 9 rooms at the Old Fire Station into a unique, once in a lifetime art exhibition at the disused and abandoned fire station.
The 999 exhibition at the old fire station is an interesting one; being set up in an abandoned fire station gives it an automatic aura of a fractured identity, not knowing what to do with itself. This is explained by the fact that it is an exhibition of 9 artists, all working by separate agendas and in separate fields, so the exhibition does not have an easily identifiable characteristic. The one thing, however, that does unite these artists is the Skippko scheme. This scheme uses empty commercial spaces, such as the abandoned fire station and turns them into spaces for the community. Part of Skippko is the Blank Canvas project that was started 5 years ago and it focuses mainly on the arts. The main body of the exhibit focused on the animals the group constructed themselves as part of the Mystery Plays at the minster. Upon entering you are greeted with two eagles, an elephant, what could be a sloth or monkey, and a walrus, immediately setting the scene of a jungle. The setting of the fire station also aids this, as I felt as though the piping that was already there looks almost snake like, wrapped around the vines of the internal structure.
As mentioned, the Blank Space community behind this exhibit is a beautifully positive one that makes people appreciate the space that they live in; I just wish they gave more information on the amazing work they do, to add context to the show. Admittedly, the audience is presented with a page of information upon entering, but I personally would’ve liked to know more. Along the walls of the room with the animals are more traditional artworks, such as the paintings by Ellie Chandler and Jenny Geddes. My only criticism of the wall pieces is that there’s not enough information to go alongside them, but perhaps this is intentional and is part of the work itself.
In the several rooms separate from the main hall, the fields of film, painting and performance are explored. There is a room of balloons, one of paintings, and another with a film installation. It is a major juxtaposition of practices, which is amazing if not overwhelming, but again what is missing is information. What I will say though is if anyone is interested in the work by Yves Klein, particularly his International Klein Blue paintings, I would recommend going to see the paintings by Pia Wennell as for me they mirror his interest in colour and what exactly colour means. The juxtaposition of traditional art pieces around the edges, the animals in the centre and the rawness of the station itself makes this an exhibit for everyone. It pushes the boundaries of traditional meta-narratives of art and is overall a very interesting exhibit. I would suggest that anyone visiting should go around twice, firstly looking at the exhibit as a whole under the narrative of community, and then with ideas of individual approaches to art. I would also suggest one conducts their own research either prior to the visit or after it, as I feel as though the art would be much more appreciated when placed in the positive context that it is.
The exhibit is a short one, running from the 9th of November until the 13th. Credit is given to Blank Canvas and Gobbledgook Theatre for arranging the 999 exhibition itself.