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"Hey, I'm Mr. Poetic" opens at Wysing Arts Centre in Cambridge
Emma Hart, Clipboard, 2013. Courtesy the artist andWysing Arts Centre.

CAMBRIDGE.- Hey, I’m Mr Poetic will feature the work of 23 artists who have worked at Wysing in different ways over the last 25 years presenting work in all shapes, forms, materials and mediums, addressing multifarious ideas. The exhibition is a playful take on what artists do and make and what histories and stories can be told institutionally and artistically. Via art works, objects, images and experiences are rethought, reordered and recreated, to make the ordinary extraordinary, or the mundane revelatory.

The exhibition will contain a range of work across all media, including new sculptures by Michael Dean, Nicolas Deshayes and JessieWine, displayed alongside existing recent sculptures that include Emma Hart’s Tongue Puppets (2013), a number of Jess Flood-Paddock’s rice-cake inspired Snacks, and Kate Owen’s Towards Zero (1–18) (2013) – eighteen soap bar sculptures created from the act of washing paint off her hands. Jonathan Baldock’s wall sculpture Mumbo Jumbo (a masquerade habit) (2013) – a series of small ceramic, stick-like sculptures, hung in a line, configured as if to form a mysterious language or modern day hieroglyphs – will be displayed in full, alongside Laure Prouvost’s text works; simple signs with provocations such as “You Are Here”.

The Cookham Erratics (2011) by Andy Holden – six large knitted sculptures which are replicas of pebbles, supposedly collected from the churchyard that Stanley Spencer painted in at Cookham – will be displayed in full. A babble of voices emanate from these woolly crags, telling the story of their own history – mixing fiction and reality, geology with art history and theology, alongside elements from Holden’s own biography.

Caroline Wendling will display a large table cloth covered in drawings and text which was created collectively by the audience who took part in the performance Walk, image, imagine (2013) in Bury St Edmunds. The drawings and language were their personal responses to the physical and psychological journey thatWendling had taken them on.

Jordan Baseman’s film Skin Coloured Chairs (2013) features the writer Simon Bennet describing his journey into adulthood via childhood care homes, young offender institutions and eventually prison, where he eventually discovered he could write – an event that changed his life.

Soheila Sokhanvari has produced a series of new works, using her father and family as subject matter, exploring how we form our identity, in paintings that use the classic Persian miniature as their format – something she has done all her life, since her Iranian father taught her as a child.

Ben Wilson was one of the first artists to live and work at Wysing, where he made a large outdoor sculpture entitled the Tree Keep on the landscape, which still exists today. He has since chosen to make a life painting squashed chewing gum on the streets of London, becoming a cult figure that the national and international press have termed “chewing gum man”. This is a radical act of transformation, turning unwanted litter into colourful portraits, signs, abstractions, or aspects of the urban environment that surrounds him. For the first time Wilson’s archive of images of these works will be presented, printed to scale.

Juneau Projects are working in collaboration with theWysing Circuit group (a national programme run by Tate, in partnership with other organisations, connecting 15–25 year olds to art) to make a parallel exhibition as part of Hey, I’m Mr Poetic, presented in Amphis (a structure made in 2008 by artists Folke Köbberling and Martin Kaltwasser, working with a team of volunteers and using only discarded, found and recycled materials). They will create a new chapter in their work I Am The Warrior – an ongoing project that invites people to bring their own work, or something they have made, to present in the gallery in specially designed spaces and structures. At Wysing, Juneau Projects will work with Circuit to present an exhibition of things made by 15-25 year olds.

Via these artists and ideas, the exhibition aims to address Wysing’s role as a place for artists to make and experiment – from its initial incarnation as an ad hoc community founded and funded by the artists themselves, to the structured centre of studios and programs organised to meet the needs of artists working today. Across this time, although the freedom of vision that being an artist enables has remained consistent, the idea of what role an artist takes, what they do, how they live, what they make, and how this relates to the world around us is constantly evolving.

Hey, I’m Mr Poetic is the first of two exhibitions looking at the different histories of Wysing Arts Centre and suggesting possible futures, with the second exhibition taking place on 13 Sept – 9 November. Hey, I’m Mr Poetic is curated by Kathy Noble.

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