A WORLD IN FLUX: 11 ARTISTS RESPOND TO ‘THE STATE WE’RE IN’
The Gallery asks if art can help decode what’s happening in our 21st century riddled with crisis?
- Artichoke announces 11 new artworks will debut at The Gallery’s second UK-wide, outdoor, public art exhibition, The State We’re In
- The Gallery is a new kind of cultural institution, without walls and with plenty of attitude, challenging traditional models of viewing art by bringing contemporary art to everyone’s doorstep.
- Gender, disability, home, nationhood, environment, mental health, industrialisation and social injustice are represented this season, seen through the perspective of our artists.
This winter, 11 powerful artworks will hit thousands of billboards and outdoor digital screens across the four nations, each responding to the theme ‘The State We’re In’. By taking over advertising space across highstreets, bus stops, cinemas and billboards, the artworks will reach millions of Brits over the four-week run, thrusting the thought-provoking pieces into the heart of public conversations and debates.
Launched in 2022, The Gallery is the brainchild of leading UK arts producers Artichoke and public artist Martin Firrell, conceived in partnership with the Out-of-Home advertising industry, including founding partners Clear Channel and JCDecaux. In its second season, the new outdoor art project continues to make art truly accessible with this bold and unafraid programme that will interact with people’s everyday lives.
The 11 artworks that make up ‘The State We’re In’ have been selected from a global public open call that received almost 1,300 entries, including four commissioned artworks. The works cover mediums including photography, illustration, oil painting, collage, and digital prints. Together the collection represents a variety of responses to the theme, from the personal to the political and from the domestic to the global.
Richard Woods addresses the idea of home and suggests a world turned upside down, while Bobby Baker’spiece takes the form of a revolutionary poster that celebrates the value of domestic labour and care. In quiet contrast, photographer Dola Posh explores her own experience of motherhood during lockdown, a blissful self-portrait brushing her daughter’s hair in a tender moment when the house is still.
Award-winningBritish artist Sarah Maple reflects on the UK’s cost-of-living crisis and the multiple contemporary meanings of cake with a pithy 21st-century reinterpretation of Marie-Antoinette’s often misinterpreted phrase ‘Let them eat cake’. Fine artist Natasha Klutch interrogates the notion of statehood in her oil painting of Britannia, the enduring symbol of dominance and glory, shown as a shadow of its former self. Hugh Malyon’s work confronts the direct impact of ableism attitudes and the repetitive narratives surrounding disabled bodies, and the one-size fits all approach taken by society. Exploring vulnerability on his own terms, the digitally-created work shows Hugh’s own body multiplied and crammed into a sardine can, a symptom and a cause of the state we’re in.
S. Mark Gubb’sluminoustextual work comments on a capitalist-driven world that increasingly values profit and personal advancement above all else, and the division and catastrophe this can lead to. In her collage of found images, US artist HEYDT, reveals the uncertainties of a world exploited beyond use, thanks to resource depletion, climate change and the spread of misinformation, while fellow US artist Allyson Packer considers our relationship with a world in crisis through a poignant photograph of a classic mid-Western landscape that suggests the only suitable response is to cry, eliciting a collective cathartic release.
Welsh community artists, Becca + Clare, in collaboration with a group of young people from The Trinity Centre Arts Club, who have experienced, or are experiencing, the asylum system in Cardiff presents a photographic piece that depicts a domestic scene constructed entirely out of cardboard, representing the fragility and transitional state of the migrant experience.
Finally, Glaswegian artist Trackie McLeod bridges the gap between fine art and design, poking fun at British nostalgia and using humour as social commentary in a textual piece that sums up the state of anxiety in which we currently live.
Artichoke’s CEO and Creative Director, Helen Marriage, said:
“When we originally conceived this second theme for The Gallery, little did we realise how apposite and prescient it would be. The 11 artists in this exhibition together tell an important story about the world we live in now. Working with our Out-of-Home colleagues, this gallery without walls sets out to reach people as they go about their daily lives, offering up great art and asking difficult questions. Public art can be innocuous or it can provoke debate and challenge people to think about what it means. For me, all these works do this in different ways, and I’m excited to see what the reaction will be.”
Martin Firrell, Creative Director of The Gallery said:
“The Gallery invites artists to engage with themes that are important to the majority of people. My hope for Season 2 is that by sharing the challenges that face us all, we can feel more able to cope. I hope we can raise spirits, of course. And also raise the magnificent spirit of protest. For me, the artists of Season 2 are saying 'we're mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore'. You might be feeling the same way. Join us.”
Bren O’Callaghan, Curator, The Gallery said:
“The inaugural season of The Gallery announced our arrival and intent: to commission new artworks for digital screens and billboards across the UK, at thousands of locations in all four nations, giving cause for meaningful reflection of differing viewpoints. For Season 2 the successful artists have drawn from a variety of subjects and causes, evidencing the overlapping, intersectional nature of art-and-activism. By co-opting sites within the city fabric most commonly associated with information, instruction and persuasion, Season 2 of The Gallery proposes alternative routes in a lifelong journey - one that yet skirts cliff edges, catastrophe and bonfires of our own making.”
Each biannual exhibition season is produced by Artichoke and sets out to nurture and develop artists at all levels, giving them a platform and guidance on producing art in the public realm. Season 2 sees the addition of a Learning and Participation programme which includes the artwork created in collaboration with artists Becca + Clare and young people from The Trinity Centre Arts Club in Cardiff. In addition, alongside local artists, The Gallery will be running workshops in Wales and Northern Ireland for young people who will have the opportunity to learn about art in the public space and create their own piece of work in response to the theme, ‘The State We’re In’.
The public will have the opportunity to purchase their favourite artworks as prints with 60% of all profits going directly to the artists. The exhibition and artists will be further supported by a dedicated website and digital archive.
Notes to editors
The 11 artists in Season 2 were selected from almost 1300 applications by a panel which included:
- Helen Marriage – CEO and Artistic Director, Artichoke
- Martin Firrell – Creative Director, The Gallery
- Bren O’Callaghan – Curator, The Gallery
- Ekene Akalawu - (Producer BBC Radio 4, Front Row)
- Darrell Vydelingum - (Artist/Curator)
Leading UK arts producers, Artichoke, works with artists to create extraordinary and ambitious public art in cities, the countryside and on coastlines around the UK. Artichoke believes in the transformative power of art to undermine the mundane and disrupt the everyday to create a new kind of world that we’d all like to live in.
Over the last 16 years Artichoke has produced more than 25 ground-breaking productions including the inaugural Artichoke project, Royal de Luxe’s The Sultan’s Elephant (London in 2006); La Machine’s 50-foot high mechanical spider for Liverpool’s Capital of Culture celebrations (2008); Antony Gormley’s One & Other commission for the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square (2009); Lumiere, the landmark light art biennial events produced in Durham, Derry-Londonderry and London; Deborah Warner’s Peace Camp commission for the London 2012 Festival with Fiona Shaw and London’s Burning, a festival commissioned by the City of London Corporation to commemorate the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London (2016). Recent projects include Sanctuary (2022), the 65ft Covid memorial, designed by American artist David Best and built by 500 community members, set alight in a moment of catharsis for the nationand The Gallery (2022), a new public art initiative taking over billboards and digital screens with art, sparking national conversation.
Artichoke.uk.com | @artichoketrust
About Helen Marriage – Artichoke CEO and Artistic Director
Helen’s previous work includes a seven-year period as Director of the Salisbury Festival, described by The Times as ‘miracle of modern British culture’. She created the first Arts & Events programme for Olympia & York, the developers of Canary Wharf in London, and was an Associate Director of the London International Festival of Theatre (LIFT). She began her working life at Artsadmin where she managed a variety of independent artists in the early 1980s.
In 2012, she was awarded a Loeb Fellowship at Harvard Graduate School of Design, a prestigious fellowship awarded to individuals working in the area of urban design and planning. Her appointment was an acknowledgement of the impact Artichoke has made on the way mass public art events are negotiated and staged. She was awarded an MBE for services to the arts in the New Year’s Honours list in 2016.
About Martin Firrell – Creative Director of The Gallery
Martin Firrell is a British-French public artist whose works challenge unjust power systems of all kinds, including patriarchal power, the oppression of women and non-heterosexuals, and the heteronormative status quo. He uses language to engage directly with the public, provoking dialogue about more equitable social organisation. His aim is 'to make the world more humane'. His work has been summarised as 'art as debate'.
About Bren O’Callaghan – Curator of The Gallery
Bren O’Callaghan is an experienced Curator and Creative Producer whose practice aims to inspire wider engagement, foster collaboration and empower artists and audiences. He draws upon a diverse background in programming, commissioning and production, including visual art, film, performance, broadcast, public realm and publishing. Bren’s curatorial interests sit at the crossroads of art, counterculture, and activism, frequently championing those excluded from the mainstream, with an emphasis upon meaningful application to a variety of lived experience.
The Gallery is Supported by
The Gallery is in partnership with the out-of-home industry, including founding partners Clear Channel and JCDecaux. Season 2 of The Gallery is supported by Alight Media, Mass Media, KBH Group, 75media, Outsmart and Wildstone. The Gallery is also supported by Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Colwinston Charitable Trust, Esmé Mitchell Trust, Idlewild Trust, The Ashley Family Foundation and The Austin & Hope Pilkington Trust.