Sunday 3rd November was the preview for Elemental Layers at Trevelyan College’s Bar. The Bubble went to go and check it out – and interview exhibition organiser, Amie Kirby.
Sunday was a cold, damp day in Durham and as I trudged up the hill to go to Trev’s, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it certainly wasn’t the buzz I found when I arrived. The room, alive and full of sound, is filled with voices and people pointing and commenting on the various pieces that lined the walls. No longer just a bar, Trevs had transformed into a gallery. Wine was being drunk, nibbles were carefully placed; it was an upmarket, elegant cultural hub. Having just come back from Paris, it transported me to a little gallery opening I had been to whilst there. Intimate, but lively. A lovely space.
As soon as I walked through the bar doors, I was greeted by Amie. She pointed out the three artists, all engaged in conversation, and gestured towards their pieces, commenting on the ones she found the most intriguing. Felt, collage, beautiful painting – so much technique was on display. The lighting softly lit each piece and people clustered in small groups to see them, and hear the artist explain each work. There was even the option of buying prints, postcards, if the original was priced more than you could afford.
Though there were lots o
f (real) adults, there was a conspicuous lack of students, which was a crying shame. Huge amounts of talent – I would have expected hoardes of students. Was this because it was a small hike out of town? Was it because the bar was high and it was all too intimidating? I wanted to know more, so I talked with Amie a little about this, as well as her aspirations as Art Rep of Trev’s Visual Arts Committee.
In conversation with Amie, head of Trevelyan College Visual Arts Committee…
The Bubble (B): So… Amie, tell me a little about what’s going on here today!
Amie (A): The work of three different women are being exhibited here, at the moment. Two of the artists are part of the Teesdale Art Network, and all work with mixed media. We tend to have exhibitions like this in Michaelmas Term and Easter Term – Epiphany Term is dedicated to the student’s art competition. We have Sara, who works with felting – both in wool and silk – to build extraordinary scenes. Some are of the moors, others are of the solar system and what’s really cool is that often you can’t tell it’s felt until you’re up close, it looks just like a painting! Then we have Suzanne who works with a mixture of painting and layering and collage, creating beautiful scenes. Her ‘Bluebells’ series is radiant, and on display at the moment. Finally, we have Val. I find her work potentially the most interesting, as she’s displaying so much range. She does so much – architectural scenes from Venice, natural scenes, abstract. One of her pieces, she’d done the background 12-15 years ago and finally got down to it! A memory scape, subtlety in the story. What we have here today are three very good artists with three amazing styles.
B: What are you trying to do with this exhibition?
A: We’re trying to make art more accessible, especially with regard to this college. When you think of Trevs, you often think of music or sport, but you don’t really think of the great art that we have – our artistic heritage, or even what we’re currently doing in the student community.The role of the committee I guess, that I’m head of as art rep, is to promote what art can do for the college, and what value it has, and the exhibitions are a really good way to do that.
B: How did you communicate with the people in Teesdale then, and how did it all begin?
A: We have an exhibitions officer called Helen, who is part of the SCR. She’s a brilliant woman, really fascinating, and she has tons of art contacts. She goes further afield, finds people who might be interested in putting on an exhibition, confers with us, and then we all make a group decision.
B: What’s the aim of the exhibition?
A: All the artists here today are external to the university and one of the great things art exhibitions like this do, is unite the Durham University Art Scene and the local Teesdale Art scene to build those local, shared networks.
B: You must be so proud of what’s all come together! What are you looking to do in the future? Have you any aspirations in your role as Art Rep?
A: I think it’s really successful the way it’s been so far, but I’d love to be a little more ambitious, maybe seek out younger artists from cities like Newcastle to increase the demographic a little. We’ve had a problem with getting students involved and I think the way in which we could do that is find people who are perhaps closer to their age? We always have great turnouts for the artists, but often they’re adults wanting to buy their work. The artists are all wonderful, their work is stunning as you’ll see today, but in the future, we’re maybe looking for artists a little more out there, to inspire and attract our student audience.
B: What do you think is the problem? Is it intimidation?
A: A little! I’m not too sure – I think we’re still trying to crack what exactly students are looking for! There is such talent on display, and we have wonderful artists here in Trevs, and in Durham as a whole, but trying to make the connections and have everyone come together is still proving a little difficult.
B: If you could say to the student audience, very succinctly, why they should come and see the exhibition, what would you say?
A: I would say that people should come because you can witness three different artists, all doing very different things, that show you that art doesn’t really have a limit. You can explore so much through art, appreciate it in so many different ways, and perhaps inspire you in the process to go away and try something new!
Elemental Layers is showing in Trev’s Bar from Monday 4th November 2019 – Friday 6th December 2019.
A feature on each artist will be published each week of the Exhibition by The Bubble.
Any questions, including contacting artists, speak to Amie Kirby, Art Rep for Trevelyan College Visual Arts Society at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
All photography by Lara Grozdanic.