Hilary and Marcus Hammond: Regrouping

One of the first things Marcus Hammond did when he bought a church in the middle of the “wrong side of town” in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, was paint its front doors hot pink. The deconsecrated church – built in 1880, and turned into one of the region’s largest dedicated arts spaces in 2006 – sits like a shipwreck on the shore of Gainsborough’s suburban streets. A town whose “regeneration” catch cry has weakened under recent economic hardships, and where “art” is considered a curiosity. But that’s the way Marcus Hammond Co-Director of BendInTheRiver likes it.

In a place that still finds art curious, space allows the definition of art to loosen. To rest. To breathe. To transform into what it was always meant to be – anything you like. It may be an intimidating space, but Goldsmith graduates Hilary and Marcus Hammond have used its energy to grow BendInTheRiver – their company supporting, curating and selling contemporary art – to a point where they feel ready to launch their most ambitious show yet. Regrouping – which will features 31 artists including Tate and Saatchi Gallery exhibitor Simon Callery; winner of the Northern Art Prize, Pavel Bulcher; and visionary writer and film-maker Iain Sinclair, along with up and coming graduates – will also act as a prelude to BendInTheRiver taking up permanent residence in the show’s Sheffield venue, Workstation in due course.

Each of Regrouping’s four venues sets a different tone. Regrouping in x-church, Gainsborough, combines large-scale, so-called “expanded” painting, sculptural 3-D installation, audio sound-work, video and performance art. Here experimental and avant-garde contemporary visual art practice coincide with more familiar art forms such as drawing and photography. Artists showing at this venue are as diverse as their practices; senior painters and sculptors will exhibit alongside mid-career makers and new graduates. Regional artists (from Scunthorpe and Southwell) will show alongside artists based in Edinburgh, Cornwall and London. Selected loosely as partnerships, the artists will be displayed both as pairings and individually.

Regrouping at Workstation in Sheffield is something of a calling card and points people to the other Regrouping shows at x-church, the Usher Gallery, Lincoln and at Primary in Nottingham; it also marks BendInTheRiver’s arrival within the cultural quarter of this progressive city. Largely wall-based practice will be shown, including photography by a Bristol-based Austrian, a Marseille-based Englishman and a Shanghai-based Chinese photographer. There will also be an opportunity for visitors to take tours of the studio of Henry Tietzsch Tyler, down the road at the Leadmill.

Regrouping’s reincarnation in Nottingham takes the form of Frank Kent’s site-specific work at Primary made out of the façade of a disused building at the studio’s complex. The showing of Building Two Collage coincides with World Event Young Artists – featuring one thousand artists in one week in Nottingham. The artwork, which has taken around a month to complete, is a kind of ‘remix’ of previous artworks and themes.

This October Regrouping moved to the Usher gallery in Lincoln, where artists Chloe Briggs and Helen Barff will be making drawing tools, swapping them, and leading instructed drawing sessions as part of the nationwide Big Draw event. Also on display will be drawings by Susan Michie and Simon Lewty. Marcus Hammond said he hopes Regrouping adds to the vitalizing of visual arts in the region. “It is very exciting that the dynamic of Regrouping has spread beyond our project space at x-church in Gainsborough to other regional venues,” he said.

BendInTheRiver has never just been an exhibition venue. We have always put energy into supporting and developing artists and arts infrastructure in our region. The size and scope of Regrouping feels like a physical manifestation of all this invasive activity. Regrouping is a funded by Arts Council England.

Regrouping, running until 27 October, currently showing at Lindum Road, LN2 1NN, Lincoln.

1. XXV by photographer Sophie Lee.