Whereas artists are generally seen as particular, if not peculiar, individuals, this exhibition is as much about what they have in common as it is about how they differ. ARTEFACTS shows art and craftwork by people with something to say, perhaps to themselves and hopefully to share, about their life-experiences. Some are artist-service users, some artist-carers, and some simply artists; all of them, for the most part, using their singular talents to attempt harmonious statements about their sometimes discordant experiences.
So, there is more to these works than the perhaps picturesque appeal of the subjects: their meanings are implicit. And it's not a case, as sometimes occurs with art nowadays, that the work means simply what the beholder wants it to mean. Working through the shaping processes of the imagination, these artists draw on Nature both without and within. They make equivalents, not copies of nature. This is not art for art's sake, but the kind of art that deals in degrees of well-being.
The experiences referred to, range from early childhood, through schooldays and adolescent adventures, to the highs and lows of everyday adult life; from the 1960's in the Barents and White Seas to the present day on Redcar beach. And between times, there are the routines of school-children, news-broadcasts from the wide world, and there is bereavement. The works themselves are evidence of facing up to things, the achievement of which the exhibition celebrates.
Individual and group pieces made in therapy workshops are shown alongside work from a fine art context; the idea being that, while we consider the creativity they have in common, we may gain fresh insight in seeing each in terms of the other. Whereas the therapeutic work might be seen to prioritise the personal relevance of the work over its more formal considerations, fine art work is generally seen first in its aesthetic aspect.
There are four organisations involved in the ARTEFACTS exhibition: the Studio-gallery housed until recently at Upsall Hall, Redcar MIND, Larchfield Community and members and friends of the Greenlights Network in the role of co‑ordinator. Our thanks for their support of the project go to the R&CBC, Redcar & Cleveland Voluntary Development Agency, for a grant from the Community Health Fund, to Teesside Valley Community Foundation for a grant from the Teesside Offshore Benefit Fund, and to Gareth of A-Spec Solutions, Lingdale, for help with transport.