Unstable Monuments – a Juggernaut of a show – Old Bakery Studios, Truro


Dick Jewell / Kathryn Ferguson / Bernhard Holaschke / Sam Bassett / Robin Monies / Andreas Gloel / Stephen Smith / Matthew Benington / Marianne Keating / Adam Hogarth / Jesse Leroy Smith / Jack Davis / Roger Thorp

Curated and produced by Jesse Leroy Smith, Associate Lecturer on Falmouth’s BA(Hons) Fine Art and Falmouth University alumni Matthew Benington and Sam Bassett.

Unstable Monuments brings together 14 established artists from London, Germany, Denmark and Cornwall whose practice employs painting, installation, quilt making, film, shoemaking, posters and print.

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This immersive transformation of an ex-industrial warehouse sees these artists exploring dissolution and change within society’s structures and touchstones with reference to faith, gender, architecture, migration, anthropology, family, dance and ritual. A monument can be seen as an inflexible state of mind.

 From Ireland, London, Cornwall, Copenhagen, Cologne and Berlin, we all grew up surrounded by monuments of former, now defunct industries. Rather than commiserate these monuments as potential losses, it made more sense for us to utilise and reengage them with fresh function. The cultural processing of ruins can only be aided by this process. For spaces to remain habitable they must be subject to change. Inner city architecture risks monument status, when it cannot be touched, tampered with, changed, or even seen through.’   Matthew Benington.

Cornwall offers the curators the ideal environment to launch Unstable Monuments. With the mining legacy permeating a vital and raw landscape, its building and sites are latent with possibility.

With the show evolving this year to be taken to other sites (Cologne, Amsterdam, Brighton) the team sees the region as the perfect breeding ground for their approach to exhibiting. Through collaboration with public partnerships, reclamation of civic space and re-invention of redundant buildings the show can be a catalyst for change. The three curators have an intimate knowledge of the county. At Falmouth University, Benington studied Fine art, Smith has lived in Penwith for 15 years and Bassett is born and bred in St Ives. All three have a commitment to the future of Cornwall. The momentum for this landmark show comes from a succession of immersive multi media shows curated by Smith. The Darkrooms at CAST, Helston 2013 in a boarded up Victorian school helped launch the Arts Hub, Revolver in an ex-car-showroom, now a gallery and Art 75 in the Jubilee Lido both in Penzance and Suspended Sentences in a Newlyn fish factory now to be an Art house cinema.

These shows brought together large collectives of artists, performers, educational organisations and the wider public to fully exploit the potential of the time and building. Students and artists with international reputations worked together to present ambitious artworks that can re define the reputation of the visual arts in Cornwall.

When Bassett instigated the show Limbo in an ex coffin store in Truro in 2013 a fruitful partnership began with those developing the Truro Festival. Neil Scott (Totally Truro) and the festival team have enabled the artists to fully engage with the wider public and make this project happen. The Old Bakery Studios is a large historic waterside building and the managers Nigel and Catherine King have kindly offered the artists the 8,000 square foot currently undeveloped ground floor space to work and present the show. The curators hope to profile the vision of Old Bakery Studios as a multi-purpose venue hosting art and music events, creative workspaces and studios, café and bar. The curators want to harness and celebrate the generosity of spirit and tenacity of these partners.

Taking this model of spontaneity, camaraderie and determination this show explores how our challenges can be confronted and re evaluated. Communities and displaced peoples, family structures and ancestries, faith and cultural icons are the fabric of this show. The curators will be hosting the 2-day event and they welcome the opportunity to discuss any ideas and feedback.

Turn and face the change, ch,ch ch changes   David Bowie RIP

Pliancy and weakness are expressions of the freshness of being. Because what has hardened will never win.” Andrei Tarkovsky.

The exhibition is open on Friday 8 April and Saturday 9 April from 11.00am – 6.00pm.  On Friday 8th April there will also be a social from 6.00pm to 11.00pm, all artists present, bar, music, incidents etc.  On Saturday 9th April from 3.00pm to 4.00pm there will be a curators’ tour of the show.  All free.  Children welcome with adults.  This event was made possible through the support of the Arts Council England and the generous support in kind of our partner organisations.  The event is held at the Old Bakery Studios, Blewett’s Wharf, Malpas Road, Truro TR1 1QH (around the corner from BBC Radio Cornwall).


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