Wysing Arts Centre presents Helen Cammock's first new work following her Turner Prize award

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Wysing Arts Centre presents Helen Cammock's first new work following her Turner Prize award
Helen Cammock, They Call It Idlewild, 2020 (still). Photo: Wysing Arts Centre.

CAMBRIDGE.- Wysing Arts Centre presents Helen Cammock’s first new work since winning the Turner Prize last year. They Call It Idlewild is a new film and text work developed by the artist following her residency at Wysing during the Autumn and Winter of 2019/20, and commissioned as part of their 30th birthday programme in 2019.

Inspired by the forgotten histories, photographs and artworks uncovered in Wysing Arts Centre’s archive, Cammock’s new film acts as a reflection on the politics of idleness and what it means creatively, emotionally and culturally to be idle at a time when the questions are being asked more widely about the physical and emotional cost of hyper-productivity required by Neoliberalism.

Presented as a large-scale installation in Wysing’s main gallery, They Call It Idlewild begins with an evocative account of the artist’s explorations in Wysing’s archive; intuitively opening boxes and searching through photographs and other documents. Reflecting on these findings, Cammock’s poetic voiceover begins to see Wysing in new terms, as a place where artists are free to engage with idleness, and to take things at their own speed. She sees this as the foundation of a thirty-year history of creativity at the arts centre; a constant in a time of sweeping societal and political change.

Cammock explores the processes of idleness through visual and poetic intertextuality drawing on writers such as Audre Lorde, Mary Oliver, James Joyce and Jonathan Crary, to consider what it means to be idle. Part way through the film, Cammock begins to sing Johnny Mercer’s depression-era song “Lazy Bones”, drawing an explicit link between several historical periods, a reminder of the pervasiveness of racial stereotypes around laziness and the hypocrisies of the slave, business and land-owning classes. They Call it Idlewild asks; who gets to be lazy.

In parallel to They Call it Idlewild, Wysing Arts Centre presents Encounter, a new solo exhibition by Naomi Harwin, which launches Test Space, the Centre’s new programme strand and public platform for their studio artists to test out new ideas and directions. As the first Test Space artist, Harwin continues her recent investigations into materiality and form to create an ambitious, immersive installation in a new small exhibition space in Wysing’s main studio building. Re-purposing collaging techniques for a 3D environment, Encounter draws together abstracted photographs, drawings, sculptures, video and lighting to create multi-layered perspectives reminiscent of theatrical stage design. Series of objects with ambiguous sources, reference machine-made and corporeal forms in a deceptive interplay of line and form, surface and object.

Helen Cammock was the joint winner of the Turner Prize 2019 and her exhibition The Long Note, has been presented at Turner Contemporary, Margate as part of Turner Prize, 2019. She was winner of the 7th Max Mara Art Prize for Women. Her subsequent exhibition, Che Si Può Fare (What Can Be Done) premiered at Whitechapel Gallery, London from June – September 2019 and is currently on view at Collezione Maramotti, Italy until 8th March 2020.

Cammock’s forthcoming film Concrete Feather and Porcelain Tacks, has been commissioned with Film and Video Umbrella, London; Touchstones Museum, Rochdale, and The Photographers’ Gallery, London and will be exhibited in solo exhibitions at The Photographers’ Gallery and Rochdale Museum in July and October 2020. This summer, Serpentine Gallery, London will present Cammock’s project Radio Ballads, a radio programme and series of live performance events.

The Long Note premiered at VOID, Derry, Northern Ireland; and showed at The Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, 2019. Other solo exhibitions include The Sound of Words, Reading Museum, UK (2019) and Shouting In Whispers, Cubitt, London (2017). Cammock’s work has been included in group exhibitions at; Somerset House, Hollybush Gardens, London and FirstSite, Colchester and she has staged performances at The Showroom, Whitechapel Gallery and the ICA in London. Cammock was born in Staffordshire, UK in 1970 and lives and works in Brighton and London. Helen Cammock is represented by Kate MacGarry, London.

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