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West Yorkshire, United Kingdom
The Juice Magazine is a new publication being brought together by a group of young graduates and students, with a background in the arts. The focus of the magazine is to represent and support the growing community of emerging artists in Leeds and the wider area of West Yorkshire.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Lucky Bloggers

On Wednesday night I was sat in the tiled cafe eating pie with people who I usually address with a prefixed '@' symbol...

A collective of us lucky blogger/social media types were invited to the 'Behind The Scenes' event at Leeds art gallery, to preview the Northern Art Prize, midway through it's set up process. We were greeted with complimentary wine and our number was divided into 2 groups and the evening was split into 3 stages.

Our half took the group discussion first and topic of conversation covered the basic logistics involved in organising the Northern Art Prize as well as evolving into a debate about the effects of social media for artists. How they can use it to engage and attract their audiences, to display progress on a piece of work and for everyone's favourite activity, 'networking' and its bohemian cousin, 'schmoozing'. The influx of so many online outlets for creative types can be a way to express your artistic work in the best possible medium, but can also create a conflict of interest whether your choice is personal taste or commercial gain.
It was a conversation that as a fairly recent art grad I've contemplated and discussed with others at various stages and one that on the night forced us to The Victoria afterwards for further contemplation...

Secondly the entire party was reunited for the prestigious honour of tasting and voting for our favourite pastry based dish in 'The Northern Art Pies'. It was an enjoyable interlude to the evening and if some witty soul had piped up with 'who ate all the pies?' the finger of blame would certainly be pointed towards The Juice corner of the table..

Finally, it was our turn to take the tour of the gallery, with the four shortlisted artists work mid-installation. It was a strange experience to be viewing partially completed installations without seeing a distressed and tired artist sat amongst it all on the verge of a breakdown after that one light fitting just wont stay in position even though you've tried every conceivable way of fixing it... although maybe that was my own personal experience as I felt slightly transported back to the days of art college. There was a similar air of anticipation and the busy feeling of a team pulling together to create a show.
Although the artists work comes from different places and perspectives it was interesting to discover that they had slight ties and connections within their themes and that their layout was based around these ideas. Being told about the artists work whilst we saw it in progress was a brilliant way to engage our minds in the thought processes behind the work and continued to open up the idea that all most people need to start engaging with art work is a little communication.

I'd be hard pressed to say who my bets are on for the final prize but overall I felt impressed with everything I saw. Someone raised the point that none of the artists have been from Leeds. I sometimes think that we're on the cusp of a cultural uprising, every year more and more of us feel Leeds is the place to open a new gallery, run an artistic event or set up a new magazine. We need these things to start to gain confidence in Leeds's cultural identity. We've had a fantastic creative year so far and The Northern Art Prize is a brilliant way to end it.

Many thanks to Leeds City Art Gallery and Culture Vultures for coming together to bring this event to us and to Alec Finlay, Lubaina Himid, David Jacques, and Haroon Mirza for allowing us to to view and photograph their work on the night.

Article : Lois Whitehead
Photography : Nick Collins

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