Review of Three Points of Contact, The Exchange, Penzance

An important part of a museum or gallery curator’s role is to engage with the visitor and make their experience an exciting and fulfilling one. Three Points of Contact is the first of a new “roving residency” concept that focuses on the collaboration between artists, curators and gallery visitors and allows the latter not only to view artworks in an exhibition, but also to witness the creative process and the environment in which they came about.

The idea for Three Points of Contact came from its three curators, Judit Bodor from York, Jenny Brownrigg (The Glasgow School of Art) and Blair Todd (Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange, Penzance). They decided that connecting regional UK artists with their international peers with enough time, space and resources, made creative collaborations between artists, curators and galleries inevitable. Therefore, with the support of the Lisbon-based Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, various regional British artists were invited to work with or alongside Portuguese artists Marta and João from the multi-media group von Calhau! both online and off-line to produce creative work over an intensive two week period, at three different locations. The residency began in York in November 2012, moved to Glasgow in December 2012 and finally to The Exchange Gallery, in Penzance, Cornwall in January 2013.

In Penzance, working alongside von Calhau! artists are others from York (Martha Jurksaitus) Glasgow (Mark Vernon) and eight local artists: Dominick Allen, Susan Bleakley, Ann Haycock, Delpha Hudson, Janet McEwan, TAap (Richard Ballinger and Jesse Leroy Smith) Kate Walters and Emma Saffy Wilson. These are installation, performance, filmmakers, photographers and mixed media artists – and so everything seems possible as these skilled and imaginative artists set to work.

In the Exchange Gallery, a long table and chairs and a computer terminal are positioned at the entrance of the Exchange gallery exhibition space. At the back of the gallery are tables where artists sit and work or quiet talk to other artists or visitors. On each wall are roughly pinned examples of some of the works produced during the York and Glasgow residencies as well as monitors displaying video works.

SONNE is a film made by Glaswegian artist Michelle Hannah, who took part in the Glasgow residency in December. A close-up shot of the artist’s face show her singing with a strong red light shining on her luminous, golden face. Another video and film stills or photography are displayed, as yet untitled and unsigned. Creativity is in the air and one gets the feeling that ideas are being “hatched”.

“..the wonderful thing about the challenge of this residency (2 weeks, 11-5 everyday) was that it forced me to open up and try things out that I usually would spend just 2 weeks thinking about,” wrote Michelle Hannah, who took part in the Glasgow residency in December, on her blog.

Everything seems to come in threes: With the gallery taking on the role of the studio workspace, the website takes on an interpretive role, like a gallery it provides documentation and information about future events, and so the gallery visitor becomes “a fly on the wall” to the real-life artistic process.

Three Points of Contact is an exciting prospect and a progressive new take on the art gallery experience.

Running until 26 January 2013 at the The Exchange, Princes Street, Penzance, Cornwall, TR18 2NL.

Sophie Kazan

1. von Calhau! courtesy of Three Points of Contact.