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28 May 2011

An outside view from Inna space

(Above*) 'Break a leg' commissioned mural by Korben Dallas in the scene dock at The Brewhouse

After work yesterday afternoon I went to The Brewhouse to see what work several artists had created as a part of 'Inna space'. The festival allowed visiting members of the public access to some of the backstage and other areas in the theatre where the artists had made artworks specifically commissioned for this event. I liked the touch of being given a map to read and find the artwork around the building as a trail you could follow and I started with running up the stairs in the box office to listen to Pennie Elfick's sound/colour installation, which I have to admit didn't hold my attention for very long because if I'm being honest I was more excited about going down into the dark under-the-stage areas where I have never been before. So I dashed back down and quickly headed into the ladies toilets (not because I needed to go) to see Jenny Graham's, 'Garden of Unearthly delights' installation. The most unlikely place to see 'art' and not one that many artists would necessarily be able to do, but expect no Duchampian urinals here. It was great to see a really well put together, kitsch fest in the ladies loo. Imagine taking that flowery toilet roll cover that your nan has and the potpourri and times it by a hundred, then you'd have a rough idea of what this looked like. It was a really fun and seriously zealously and immaculately put together installation and a reminder that art should be fun and have a sense of humour sometimes.
Moving on...into darker places, I proceeded from the loo to the 'under the stage' door where after beginning to adjust to the light I stumbled across Sara Dudman's paintings. Titled, 'Haunting' and in location under the stage and in the dark was a great location for these ghostly paintings of a mysterious figure. The paintings were lit but only enough so you could see the colour and streaks of paint that make up the recognisable painting gestures that Sara uses in her work. As I descended the stairs, alongside the paintings which also went down I quickly came to the biggest paintings of the series placed directly under the stage itself. Being able to hear the footsteps of people on the stage above was an atmospheric bonus to seeing the creepy paintings down below.

Onwards and out back into the theatre itself where you see the sound installation piece by Morag Kiziewicz. A shower curtain surrounding a chair takes centre stage where the participant sits and listens to a soundtrack of what, sounded to me a bit like a shower. I think the whole piece being on the stage made me think of the sound of applause and the idea of being 'showered with affection' from an audience if you are a performer. That idea in contrast with the fact that a shower is somewhere usually private and where you feel at your most exposed which is in complete opposition with the 'show' and spotlight of being on stage. You feel kind of vulnerable yet isolated at the same time. At this point, you're possibly wondering why I didn't read what the artist had to say about the work, and the answer is I didn't, for two reasons. One, I wanted to experience as much as I could in a limited time and two, I'm not sure if I ever really like reading the artists statement often preferring having to work at finding some sort of understanding of it. This isn't always the case; but, if I am being very honest is more often than not how I feel about viewing artwork.
Round the corner now and down the corridor to the dressing room where I am at once greeted with a now bearded but recognisable face. It could only be Sue (who doesn't normally have a beard by the way! -as will become clear). Sue Palmer's piece involved her raiding the theatre's costume department and inviting visitors to create, mix and match their own outfits before having their photos taken outside at the scene dock door. The idea of creating a character as a kind of hybrid of Aslan the lion, snow queen, doctor, feather boa creation is fun and used what was available and in context with the Brewhouse. When I arrived, apart from seeing Sue in a beard, two other visitors were dressed and getting ready to go outside to have their picture taken. This was probably a good idea as it meant anyone walking past could see what was going and and would hopefully be intrigued enough to have a look themselves.

Phew! Nearly at the end of my tour and in the scene dock up a scaffold is Korben Dallas creating a mural on the Brewhouse wall. Two photo realistic portraits sprayed directly onto the brickwork wall. I thought it was great seeing both Sue and Korben actually in the Brewhouse creating work on site, even though the other work was made for 'Inna space' it was a different kind of dynamic and more engaging to have these two artists working when visitors came. Similarly, I recommend checking out the graffiti artists blog (link below) to see his other commissioned work as well.
So overall a really brilliant way to end the day and a very exciting change to have work in different contexts in the Brewhouse other than in the gallery. There was a video piece by Maia Conran and an artistic meets cuisine encounter in the cafe restaurant by artist, Stuart Crewes amongst colour bricks and more happening in the gallery/restaurant spaces too. I'd like to see more unusual exhibitions, paintings in the dark and in unexpected places. Thanks to everyone involved, it was fun! This has been my outside view from Inna space.

(Above) My Inna space map handed to me at the start of my exploration of The Brewhouse

(Above*) 'Haunting' a series of paintings under the stage by Sara Dudman

(Above) 'Garden of unearthly delights' installation in the ladies toilets by Jenny Graham
(Above) 'Try this on, become something other with me' in the Brewhouse dressing room by Sue Palmer.

More artists involved in innaspace include:

Stuart Crewes, Sarah Jenkins, Nicci Wonnacott, Ben Cody and Morag Kiziewicz.

For more about Inna space please go to:

*Thank you to Korben Dallas and Sara Dudman for permission to use their photos

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