An explosion of colour and Oriental charm feature in a new exhibition. Katy Wheeler finds out more
walk through the gallery at NGCA transports you to the Far East and its streets festooned in a kaleidoscope of colour.
The Fawcett Street gallery has teamed up with the Winter Gardens for joint exhibition, You Are The Company In Which You Keep.
The show fuses work by local photographers with those from far-flung corners of the globe to explore photography, the most accessible and practiced of art forms.
Alistair Robinson, director at Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, said: “Everyone has a camera on them all the time.
“It’s the first generation where no one misses a thing. There’s also the fact that, thanks to smartphones, you can publish it instantly on social media.
“Artists have responded to that in different ways in the exhibition, either going with it, or going down the more traditional route.”
One of the pieces, by celebrated Thailand photographer Dow Wasiksiri, allows visitors to step into the picture and they’re encouraged to tweet their version of the piece
“He takes the traditional idea of using a white backdrop in a studio to take photos and uses ornate fabrics instead,” explained Alistair.
An off-shoot of the main exhibition is The (Post) Colonial Photo Studio II, which is on display in the gallery’s Project Space.
Alistair said: “Dow takes photos from his great grandparents’ time when Far East countries were under colonial rule and inserts playful images of himself and modern-day markers, such as Starbucks.
“It’s the first time some of these images have been shown in this part of the world, but he’s a very celebrated artist in Thailand.
“They’re very eye-catching images, because it’s the tropics, the colours are so bright and vibrant.”
Closer to home, in the main gallery, are pieces by Craig Ames.
“Craig is a lecturer at Sunderland University and former soldier in Northern Ireland.
He’s created works about what it’s like to be at war and myths associated with the military,” said Alistair.
“The American military recruitment campaigns increasingly use avatars now and Craig mixes these with interviews with real soldiers.”
Other more locally-based pieces in the exhibition include Stuart Whipps’ installation which looks at the period when coal was created, alongside the history of new towns.
“Stuart spent several months in the archives at Durham County Council looking at the optimism of building new towns like Washington and Peterlee.
“At the time it was seen as a model and ideas were sent to Tokyo about how to build these new towns. There was an amazing wave of confidence.”
Over in the Winter Gardens, there are playful pieces about how we represent ourselves on the worldwide web, as well as images which capture the flares and fashion faux pas of a Malaysian photo studio in the 1970s.
* You Are The Company In Which You Keep is on display at NGCA until February 23, and on display at Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens until November 23.
You Are The Company In Which You Keep is part of The Social: Encountering Photography, a month of displays and exhibitions which celebrate photography in Sunderland.
It is the largest festival of its kind, celebrating talent on our doorstep while also attracting renowned international photographers. The Social is the brainchild of the North East Photography Network (NEPM), which is hosted, based and partly funded by the University of Sunderland and Northern Centre for Photography, at City Campus on Chester Road.
As well as hosting exhibitions in Wearside galleries, the festival takes art onto the street with large-scale photos on display at the Old Fire Station in High Street West, The Bridges and Mowbray Park.
* For details and a full line-up of events visit www.thesocialnepn.co.uk.