Ruth Barker & Hannah Leighton-Boyce

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Date: 
Friday, 9 March 2018 to Sunday, 29 April 2018
Opening: 
Thursday, 8 March 2018 -
6:00pm to 8:00pm

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Previewing on International Women’s Day and as part of Wonder Women 2018, Castlefield Gallery presents two newly commissioned bodies of work by Glasgow-based artist Ruth Barker and Manchester-based artist Hannah Leighton-Boyce, centring around varying aspects of womanhood. The launch event will include a premiere performance of If this is the last thing that I say by Barker.

Following Ruth Baker’s residency at the University of Salford and University of Salford Art Collection, her new commission, If this is the last thing that I say, explores motherhood, illness, physical vulnerability and the economic conditions of contemporary Britain which, she feels, are all rapidly coalescing to render her publically mute.

The central figure in If this is the last thing that I say is an ambiguous ‘pulley- woman’, a (ready-made) clothes pulley standing in for Barker’s absence. Alongside other works, this becomes a way for Barker to talk about her own mortality and an anxiety around motherhood, illness, physical vulnerability. Brutal world politics, and the economic conditions of contemporary Britain are, Barker feels, rapidly coalescing to render her publicly mute.

If this is the last thing that I say will come together through an assemblage of spoken word and sound, and will include wall based fabric works, and sculptural objects. A black fabric performance costume hung up to dry alongside an incomplete papier mâché female torso - suggesting nothing more than an ineffectual Winged Victory, while a ‘rug’ depicting a child’s drawing of the face of the Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar.

Children from Salford’s Clarendon Road Primary School will be recorded performing a sonic meditation inspired by the founder of "Deep Listening", the late Pauline Oliveros, in the University of Salford’s Anechoic Chamber (a room designed to absorb all sound, rendering the room completely silent). The audio recording will be accompanied by the sound of Barker’s own breath works, infant babble, and performed monologue.

Leighton-Boyce explores historical narratives through site-specific actions, sculpture, drawing, sound and installation.

Leighton-Boyce explores historical narratives through site-specific actions, sculpture, drawing, sound and installation and her contribution, developed during a research residency at Glasgow Women’s Library (the only accredited museum in the UK dedicated to women’s lives, histories and achievements.

Her new works will echo her experiences, specifically through her decision to work with salt, drawing on its inherent properties of healing, energy, and the charge of ‘coming together’ she experienced at Glasgow Women’s Library.

In developing her work, Leighton-Boyce entwines ideas and materials, echoing the physical imprints and human presence, the traces of labour and emotion. Her research led her to explore salt as a metaphor for both the physical extraction process of researching and the laboured mind, singular and collective; of form and fluidity, of resistance and preservation.

As with Barker’s work, historical narratives have informed and will be present in the new works. In reflecting on the multiple bodies that form the body of the archive and the importance of looking back, Leighton-Boyce references the story of Lot’s (unnamed) Wife who was turned to a pillar of salt because she defied the angels and turned to look back on the burning cities of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:26). The powerful new body of salt-inspired and made works will signal the presence of the body; the blood, sweat and tears of the mind, body and soul.

Touring to Glasgow Women’s Library: 1 February – 23 March 2019 (Preview: 31 January 2019). Co-commissioned with the University of Salford Art Collection.

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2 Hewitt St,
Manchester,
M15 4GB

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