EXHIBITIONS

paint palette image with text saying Precious Little - title of exhibition

mura ma summer salon

Accompanying evening events programme

Opening night 27 June, 7-9pm

View by appointment

This summer mura ma brings you a salon hang featuring paintings by some of your favourite Mura Ma artists.

Veronica Cay

Nan Collantine

Kate Jacob

Josie Jenkins

Fiona Moate

Jen Orpin

Georgia Peskett

Naqsh Raj

Emma Richardson

Louise West

The chance to win one of three complimentary art finder appointments will also be available exclusively to our subscribers.

Subscribe to the mura ma newsletter to find out more.

 

paint palette image with text saying Precious Little - title of exhibition
paint palette image with text saying Precious Little - title of exhibition

habitat

an exhibition of paintings by Helen Thomas

3-18 May 2024

Preview:  Thursday 2 May, 7pm-9pm

Mura Ma is delighted to present a solo exhibition of paintings by Helen Thomas.

Specificity of time, place and plants are the subject matter for this Wakefield-based artist who is inspired by plants and their locales.  Working in response to gardens, countryside and post-industrial edgelands, Helen has become focused on unplanned plants and organisms that grow haphazardly in carparks, on pavements, walls, edges of paths – the margins of our urban environment.

Helen records and maps the minutiae of these plants through her fieldwork, in which she embarks on drawing, painting and note-taking from direct observation.

In the studio, Helen’s process of painting is concurrent with slow looking. The paintings extend an invitation to take time on fringes and fragments of plants caught freeze-frame in the break of a stride, where ribbons of micro-habitats thread through the overlooked and seemingly insignificant.

Working with paint including acrylic, gouache and watercolour either on board, on paper and sometimes on canvas, Helen’s studio practice transforms these records into stunning paintings that elevate these forgotten and overlooked life forms and invite the viewer to regard with wonder.

“Plants and their locale have always been the focus of my work in some way or another. When I first moved into my studio, at The Art House, in the centre of Wakefield in 2016 I felt a sense of disconnection from the edgelands areas, a few of miles out of town, that had previously informed my drawings and paintings.

“Interesting things happen at edges, margins, and in transitory spaces, as they shift through phases of use, vacancy and development. In an attempt to better understand my new environment, I began paying closer attention to what happens where a wall meets the pavement, where public space meets private property and in post and pre-development spaces. Whilst out picking litter one day, I checked a fleeting inclination to uproot a ‘weed’. It’s not uncommon for pavement plants and litter to be associated by their proximity.

As Richard Mabey says in The Unofficial Countryside “They seem, to the unconditioned urban eye, as insignificant and maybe as annoying as a splash of spilt green paint”. As I carefully started to disentangle crisp packets, cans and plastic from leaves, stems and flowers, I began to see these fragile green fringes with fresh eyes. Here, often in improbable conditions, grew plants that had somehow found ways to survive.

Helen not only provokes us to look again, but also to value these edgeland species; “wildflowers can support bees, butterflies & birds; they help trap pollution and they bring colour and softness to the built environment. Once we start to notice and reconsider these plants they can be seen as part of a fascinating wildlife habitat and an opportunity for much-sought connection with nature, on our doorstep, at our feet.

“Might we reconsider the plants, in our day-to-day surroundings, that are often overlooked and dismissed as weeds? Can we consider an alternative to the excessively mowed, trimmed and sprayed ‘landscape maintenance’? I wanted to get in close, to slow down the looking “where the snatched side-long glance is the convention.” (Mabey).

“Fieldwork, which includes drawing, painting and taking notes from direct observation, is a key to my practice. I sketch and paint in corners of car parks, on path edges and in empty plots, often in my hometown of Wakefield. I’m gradually learning to recognise more plant species, however, I still have much to learn about plant identification. Inaccurate notes and misidentification are an accepted part of the process, for example, I have included ‘maybe’ in titles rather than correcting a mistaken plant identity or where I might have misremembered a location. I’m interested in mapping and celebrating the noticing through painting, and extending an invitation to follow my gaze, rather than attempting to authoritatively illustrate.

“In the studio, I paint from printouts selected from the many phone snapshots that I take on daily walks; I also refer to the digital images on my laptop. This is a close but not specifically accurate process of interpretation which involves memory, visual perception and visual interpretation combined with the material qualities of paint and the processes of painting. I sometimes make several paintings from the same reference photo, the composition, proportions and varying from format to format. The painting is slow; in the time frame that it takes to complete a studio painting, the corresponding plant might have completed more than one life cycle.

When I’m painting or sketching on-site I often note the date, location and plant names (If I know them). Through painting and paying attention to the specificity of the details I realised that this ‘could be anywhere’ patch of ground held clues: the way that dandelion grows, those fragments of dry bramble stem, the moss, those seedlings. What, at first glance, might seem to be an image that could be from any town or village in the UK is actually a micro-scape of a particular somewhere.

paint palette image with text saying Precious Little - title of exhibition

Beyond the frame

Suzanne Bethell, Bernadette Bone, Sarah Connell, Mair Doyle, Suzie McDaniel, Yvonne Norworyta

28 March-28 April 2024

Artists talk: Thursday 18 April 7pm-9pm

Six artists are co-creating an immersive artists residency and exhibition from 28 March-20 April 2024.  Titled Beyond the frame, the artists will be challenging traditional ways of presenting art, revealing the process of making, discussion and experimentation usually reserved for the studio, and to see what happens in a co-working space.

Visitors to the gallery are invited to observe the artists’ work in progress as it unfolds, whilst the artists consider the threads and themes that connect their work and ask, ‘what is the value of collective creativity?’ To see what happens when they leave the singular studio environment.

The residency is the first time the artists will work together as Studio 8 Collective.  It follows a three-month programme of peer-led studio visits and critiques facilitated by Nan Collantine of Mura Ma to investigate a collective and peer-led approach to developing an artists’ creative practice.  Each artist is now planning a new piece of work that will be realised, and collaboratively developed and presented in the gallery.

Sarah Connell plans to use the residency to break free from the traditional methods of presenting and exhibiting her work, which is conventionally, the end-product, mounted and framed and placed onto the gallery wall.

“During the mentoring programme I realised just how significant my studio/darkroom is a space for the development of my work. I want to create a ‘sense of my studio’ within the space, giving people the opportunity to see behind the scenes.”

By focusing on the viewers emotional experience, she will harness the use of prints, projection, and installation to create an immersive space that challenges how photography is traditionally viewed and experienced.

She will be asking, “We live in world where we are constantly bombarded by digital images. What role does analogue photography play now?”

Bernadette Bone will explore the emotional experience of being a female architect within a male classified world. She will be challenging the restrictions and erasure of that journey by gifting herself the freedom to play, experiment, fail, and find form of her own story. The solidarity and support of the artists and space itself providing the safety for such expression. She will be using familiar mediums and methods alongside new materials and sculptural forms. Breaking free from her highly skilled approach into areas of raw form, yet, unknown.

Yvonne Noworyta will be working with lost and care-worn ephemera to delve into ideas around sentimentality and objecthood, how beloved belongings are instruments for the holding and treasuring of memory.

Yvonne intends to construct a lamp, ‘to shine a light in the darkness of recent times’ to light for her final piece for the exhibition.  She is inviting people to get involved with this ‘Beacon of Bane’ project by donating broken brooches, earrings, bangles or necklaces that have lost their backs, clasps or fixings and costumes that have lost part of their original ensemble.

Mair Doyle responds to the environment in which she lives, which is a former textile mill near Marple. She considers herself a caretaker for the site in which wildlife has been allowed to flourish in this early industrial landscape, and her studio a research space in which she maps and records the plants and landscape through compiling visual notes, works on paper, drawing, painting and collage. Teaching workshops on the site is a way of sharing her enthusiasm for both art and her surroundings. During the residency she’ll be working on an installation that explores nature escaping boundaries.

Suzanne Bethell is interested in recording psychological states through painting and drawing and she is using the residency to experiment with the technique of expanded painting to potentially create a larger scale installation.   She will be demonstrating her process in the gallery, responding to music using colour and marks across unfolding rolls of paper

Suzie McDaniel will continue to develop her latest project, which celebrates female swimmers and feminine autonomy through her rendering of 3D female figures that appear dive into large clay pots.  She will be treating the residency as a research exercise, working with 3D paper collages and other materials, to explore sculptural ideas for future works in clay.

The gallery is open from Thursday-Saturday from 28 March-20 April for visitors to drop in and see them at work.

The final exhibition takes place from 18-20 April.  An artist’s talk will take place on Thursday 18 April, 7-9pm in which the artists will discuss the process and the impact on their work, and the experimental nature of the collective residency.

Artists talk Thursday 18 April 7-9pm

Exhibition finalé 18-20 April

Closing party 20 April 11am-4pm

paint palette image with text saying Precious Little - title of exhibition

Holding Up

Fiona Moate, Naqsh Raj and Vic Wright

8-23 March 2024

Preview: Thursday 7 March 7pm-9pm

mura ma is delighted to present the late Fiona Moate, Naqsh Raj and Vic Wright.

Titled, ‘Holding Up’ the exhibition draws together artists devoted to process, place and form and have each developed their own visual language in their art-making, be it painting or sculpture.

Opening on International Women’s Day 2024, the theme of this exhibition has been inspired by the book of illustrations and writing by American artist Maira Kalman, called ‘Women Holding Things’.

“The exhibition’s premise is to celebrate the idea of women holding space for art making.  All be it a something else to hold, it is for many artists, a place in which to escape, take refuge and for creativity to flourish.  Finding that time and place to create in the clamour of everyday life of things to hold and to carry,”  Nan Collantine, Mura Ma.

The late Fiona Moate’s paintings explore an interplay between historic 19th and 20th century architecture and natural and formal landscape.  The looseness of her paintings, often using the beautiful, powdery softness of gouache on paper,  belie a sophisticated painterly understanding.   Her sketchbook drawings, often made whilst travelling on buses from her Stockport home and on walks around her local park during the pandemic, record acutely observed and unaffected glimpses of urban spaces. These provide fertile ground for paintings patchworking histories of place, and borrowed texts from the ‘The Kings England’ series by Arthur Mee, to reinforce her own discovered meaning. Read artist associate and friend, Chris Lethbridge’s memorial to Fiona Moat in Mag North.

Naqsh Raj is a painter who recently returned to Pakistan after living in the UK for two years.  Her rhythmic compositions on large scale canvases are the result of a painstaking process of building and restoring order to her work.  Raj believes in the strong connection between visual aesthetics and ethics, both in a continuous process of reform.  Her ongoing work is a union of mechanical and manual methods of painting; the mundanity of making repetitive marks with human hands is the symbolism in her imagery. Taking possession of an empty space through relentless exertion has been her prime interest and embracing imperfection is a natural part of her current art practice. Read Nan Collantine’s interview with Naqsh ahead of this exhibition on Substack.

Sculptor Vic Wright creates precariously assembled forms from sustainable casting cement, softening the hard materials with pastel pigments and curved forms, and harnessing the material’s weight to create an imbalance in space.

Wright’s exploratory approach leads to a contradiction between the language of the materials and the natural forms.  For example by growing crystals onto the sculpture and playing with what we think we already know about materials.

All artwork will be available to buy and a PDF catalogue is available to accompany the exhibition.

Accompanying events include a Women Holding Things life drawing series – details here

A Women Holding Creative Space event is also planned for Thursday 21 March.  Further details available soon.

paint palette image with text saying Precious Little - title of exhibition

How to knit a nebula

A solo exhibition of painting by Kate Jacob

26 January – 10 February 2024

Preview: Thursday 25 January 7pm-9pm

mura ma is delighted to present Sheffield-based artist Kate Jacob’s first solo exhibition.

In How to knit a nebula Jacob articulates through painting her attempts to trace the voids, space, and places of loss and memory.  A nebular, a giant cloud of cosmic dust and gas, is the former site of a star, but also its birthplace; a fitting description of the metaphysical time and space Jacob is reaching for in her painting. 

Jacob uses a material process to knit together fragments of being, imagining the effects of time and motion inside and outside the body. It’s a world of broken, hazy lines and shapes that rise and fall allowing us to exist in both the intimate and infinite realm.

“I make paintings and drawings that are investigative, working with ideas we see as abstract but are as real as the physical world we live in. In colour, mark, shape and gesture I find the fluidity and freedom to convey those spaces, trying to get to the bottom of something not always known; being fully aware and totally unsure”.

Working in acrylic and ink the work is as accidental and playful, as it is constructed and considered. Pastel colours wrestle with bright popping neon and muddy greys. A mass of marks sits amongst unpopulated space; pattern, colour, and lines repeat and jump from painting to painting. A lightness of touch prevails; washed over, thinned out glazes set against thick opaque glossy marks that are applied using whatever is to hand.

Kate Jacob, born in London is now based in Sheffield, South Yorkshire. She studied at Manchester Metropolitan University, recently completed the Turps Correspondence Course, and the Fine Art Mentoring course at Morley College London.

Jacob has previously exhibited in Mura Ma’s opening four-person exhibition, ‘Edgelessness’ in January 2023.  She has also exhibited at The Graves Gallery, Sheffield, Harley Gallery, Worksop; Wolff Gallery, Studio 1:1, The Mall Galleries, London, and Morley Gallery, London. She’s also founded and managed art projects, including Summer Schools at the former Mappin Art Gallery, Sheffield as well as co-founding Open up, South Yorkshires Open studio event, now in its 25th year.

Preview: Thursday 25 January, 7pm9pm

Talk and Taste in conversation event:  Friday 9 February 7pm-9pm.  With the artist and art historian, Sara Riccardi tasting plates created by Claire Woodier. Info and booking

paint palette image with text saying Precious Little - title of exhibition
paint palette image with text saying Precious Little - title of exhibition
paint palette image with text saying Precious Little - title of exhibition

Precious Little

16 November – 23 December 2023

Launch party: Thursday 23 November, 7pm-9pm

Presenting the rich and varied breadth of painting taking place in northern England today, Mura Ma has gathered 14 northern contemporary painters for its final exhibition of the year.  In the gallery vault, a second exhibition titled Paper Thin Skin, presents a series of works on paper by highly regarded Australian artist, Veronica Cay.

Precious Little will feature two paintings from each of the following artists;

Sue Asbury, Nan Collantine, Alison Friend, Rob Hall, Ghislaine Howard, Kate Jacob, Josie Jenkins, Joe Kiney-Whitmore, Jen Orpin, Joe O’Rourke, Georgia Peskett, Jayne Simpson, Helen Thomas, Mike Thorpe.

The exhibition will offer a dual encounter, as paintings collectively enter a dialogue with each other, and due to the size of the paintings, each presents the viewer with an intimate experience.

“Small compact works often contain a real sense of supressed energy and underlying tension. They demand close inspection, are they calling out or are they calling in?  Do they present barriers or a glimpse of something fleeting.  Time is trapped in painting, and it would seem even more so in a confined space.  It will be interesting to view this collection of disparate works together and what sort of environment they will collectively invoke,” says artist and exhibition curator, Nan Collantine.

Paper Thin Skin works on paper by Veronica Cay

An exhibition of works on paper by Australian artist, Veronica Cay will be taking place in the gallery vault.

Cay’s arts practice engages with the contradictions inherent in contemporary life from a gendered perspective. She has spent many years developing a personal language as a vehicle to convey meaning and ideas, and as an endeavour to reflect upon what it means to be human; seeking connections, testing resilience and acknowledging frailties.  Her drawings all stem from weekly life drawing sessions – her mark making is often intuitive, both responding to the marks and/or obliterating them.

“Drawing from life is central to my practice – it’s a very physical process and these portraits like most of the work I do is generated in these sessions.  Whilst observational drawing is the beginning of the process it is usually quickly lost in my translations,” states Cay.

“My work is about opening conversations and distilling experiences through marks that can be revealed across the surface, utterances that can be swift and staccato in sound and rhythm or fluid and generous in their tone, substance, texture and form.  I use a range of mediums and tools to help evoke a response or excite the imagination.  I juggle between an expressive, uncontrolled process and a sensitive more emotive response. I seek to remove traces of certainty or perfection in the marks revealing transitory moments in time – an energy transfer that is never repeated; like fleeting shadows flickering across the ground.”

“It’s an absolute honour to exhibit Ronnie Cay’s work in the UK,” continues Collantine.  “Cay is a fascinating artist with a rich and complex practice.  Working in drawing, painting and sculpture, along with her background in textile art, her sensitive and delicate works on paper seem to contradict a powerful thematic around the complexities of the female condition and the societal pressures women face.

All work in the two exhibitions is available to buy. For a catalogue of works please follow the link in the button below.

Read the review by Desmond Bullen in Northern Soul

Instinctive Energies

Cara MacWilliam and Candice Swallow

2-11 November 2023

Preview: Wednesday 1 November, 6pm-8pm

A joint exhibition of artwork from Cara Macwilliam and Candice Swallow entitled Instinctive Energies, invites you to share the spirit and vitality of their art. Their work unfolds, nothing is planned, instinct and senses come to the fore. Layering is intrinsic to their work: the subtle quietness of Macwilliam, the eruption of energy from Swallow, their work flourishes and evolves over time.

United in their use of distinct colours and revealed marks, Swallow uses both hard and soft lines in subtle tones or rich juxtaposing colours whilst Macwilliam uses the layering of paler shades to create rich vibrancy, with just the gentlest, intricate touch, featherlike at times. Through the monochromatic works the focus shifts to the powerful presence of the line, with Macwilliam’s work revealing hidden depths.

Cara Macwilliam (b.1972) is a Manchester-based self-taught, disabled visual artist. She started being creative in 2018 during a severe relapse. Living with an energy limiting illness, her work allows her to reconnect to something lost long ago. The repetitive patterns and meticulous details in watercolour pencil and pen, evoke a sense of rhythm and meditation, allowing her to travel into surreal landscapes and mythologies. Macwilliam finds solace and tranquillity within the creative process.

Candice Swallow’s (b.1975) primary practice features layered marks in delicate lines or eruptions of energy across her drawings. Losing her sight aged thirty-one, Swallows has developed a unique way of working with a paper block, allowing her to maintain her independence. When drawing, all her senses work in tandem especially her sense of touch, often touching her face when working. Swallow is part of the pARTnership, an art studio linked to the Grundy Art Gallery in Blackpool.

“As a working-class Mancunian of the 1970’s, my home town means the world to me. To have my first showing here is poignant. I’ve been blessed to have my work shown in London, Paris and NYC but it’s just as important that artists are able to be seen in their own regions. It also means that many family and friends will be able to access my work for the first time. Showing alongside Candice Swallow from Blackpool makes it even more special for me, she’s an astonishingly accomplished artist.” Cara MacWilliam

Events

Friday 3 November, 7–9pm – Supper Club with local chef Claire Woodier.  Book here, for a three course menu & welcome drink, inspired by the artwork of Cara and Candice. BYO wine/beer/spirits, soft drinks provided

Sunday 5 November, 11am–12:30pm – ‘Exploring the unseen’ clay workshop with Cara Macwilliam. Book here for a workshop looking at your internal self and emotions, with polymer clay provided. £10

Thursday 9 November, 6:30–8:30pm – In-person richly illustrated talk about automatic drawing with College of Psychic Studies Curator and Archivist Vivienne Roberts, followed by Q&A with exhibiting artist Cara Macwilliam. Book here for the talk, to include light refreshments. £10

About the Gallery

Jennifer Lauren Gallery is run by Jennifer Gilbert – a Manchester-based gallerist, freelance producer and curator, working with disabled, neurodivergent, self-taught, and overlooked artists. In 2017 she launched the Jennifer Lauren Gallery to internationally showcase these artists, having previously spent years managing a national arts charity for under-represented artists. Jennifer is passionate about showcasing the voices and artworks of these artists to wider audiences, allowing their true artistic language to shine.

 

previous EXHIBITIONS

June Wainwright Doubleton
June Wainwright Doubleton
June Wainwright Doubleton
June Wainwright Doubleton

Live with it - artists' house and art takeaway

“It’s not just a question of how to live with art, but how to live in it,”  Katie Evans, Creative Tourist

Mura Ma has invited more than 30 artists and designers to co-create an imagined home environment within the gallery, to explore the idea of the home as an artistic practice. 

“Somewhere between an expanded still life and a stage set-an invitation to participate in an imagined occupancy. A mise-en-scene.”  Kirsty Bell, author of Artist’s House

Facilitated by artists Jane Fairhurst and Nan Collantine, who have handed over the installation process to the artists themselves, Live with it will begin with a series of unseen performative elements, starting with the activation of the space with sculptures by Kat Button and Jane Fairhurst.

The gallery will be divided into rooms, intimated through the placing of items of furniture. Each room is then developed, as artists respond through the placing of an artwork and an object within their chosen space in a given time slot of 30 minutes.

Viewers will be invited to enter the created space to experience the imagined environment that mimics the ‘artists house’.

An accompanying programme of events and activities will investigate home as a place of creative endeavour, observe and discuss the practice of collecting and arranging, and explore how domestic labour and caring can be reframed as valuable creative capital.

The exhibition will evolve as art and all objects in the exhibition are available to buy and taken away, as you would in a shop.  Sold objects and artworks will be replenished on a weekly basis and different artists will be invited to place work within the installation.

“Jane and I wanted to explore ideas around creative and artistic practice in the home and questioning who gets to be the curator.  We believe that anyone who creates an environment, however small, be it a shelf, a studio flat, shelter or a house does so with their own artistic, aesthetic, and cultural sensitivities. Reading Shaun McNiff’s book, Trust the Process in the early days of my own practice, helped me tune into this idea that domestic space, arrangements, physical activities around the home, each offers insights into our unique expression as humans.

“Collecting objects is associated with building meaning into our lives and the things around us are vessels for memory.  The way we display those objects is vital to our creating a world in which we feel safe and sheltered from the outside world and in that becomes an expression of our inner world.”

“Rethinking, re-imagining the gallery space as a place not only to experience artworks but to participate in this mise en scene as actors performing their roles.  As a modern gallery we want to show people that art offers a multi-dimensional value to life, whether that is art, or a handmade item or even something given to us with all that embedded meaning and memory.  It is about creatively constructing our own reality and bring together objects that help us to create that world, express who we are and to act as memory holders.”

Nan Collantine

“It seems a simple act to place my work in an empty space but there is something profound and quite daunting in the act of choosing, as the first actor on the stage setting in motion the scene for what is to follow.

In activating the space within a freeform concept lays the foundation for an unknown structure and that is exhilarating. Like a seed whose DNA has been scrambled and knows not what it will become but knows that from its germination something new and wonderful will bloom.

I’m excited to play my part at the start of the construction of a stage setting to which each artist will bring their own flavour and when the viewers arrive to take their part the mise en scene will be complete.”

Jane Fairhurst

image credits from the top:  Nicola Hood, Jude Wainwright, Michelle Oliver, Jane Fairhurst, Emma Jackson.

title page image:  Kat Button

Thanks to our sponsor, Ashley Aspin Decorator and Colour Consultant for supporting this exhibition.

Read the review on Creative Tourist

MYE PAINTING COLLECTIVE exhibition residency

10-20 August 2023

 

SUBTLE REBELLION exhibition residency

HELEN AND DAVID ROSCOE-RUTTER

21 July -5 August 2023

 

HANG EACH NIGHT IN RAPTURE

EMMA RICHARDSON

9 June -15 July 2023

 

AEVUM

LOUISE WEST

13 April – 20 May 2023

MECHANICAL CONFECTION

JOEY COLLINS

18 March – 1 April 2023

A solo exhibition of new work by artist-printmaker, Joey Collins.

EDGELESSNESS

20 January – 20 February 2023

We opened our brand-new gallery space with an exhibition of painting by Rachael Addis, Suzanne Bethell, Nan Collantine and Kate Jacob.