We The People Are The Work is a major visual arts project in Plymouth that will explore ideas of power, protest and the public. Presented by Plymouth Visual Arts Programming Group and curated by Simon Morrissey, director of Foreground, the project will bring six internationally acclaimed artists from the UK, Canada, France and Mexico to Plymouth to create new artworks inspired by the city’s rich heritage, its people, and their aspirations for the future.
A multi-site exhibition, We The People Are The Work will launch to coincide with Plymouth Art Weekender (22 – 24 September), and will run until 18 November at five venues around the city: The Gallery at Plymouth College of Art, The Council House at Plymouth City Council, KARST, Peninsula Arts at Plymouth University and Plymouth Arts Centre.
The exhibition is the first major commissioning project of Horizon, a collaborative two-year programme of contemporary visual art which will strengthen and grow Plymouth’s dynamic arts scene, promoting the city as an exciting contemporary art destination.
Each of the six high profile contemporary artists invited to take part in We The People Are The Work have already begun creating work for the exhibition, visiting the city and working with local participants to prepare for what will be one of the biggest events on the city’s cultural calendar this autumn.
Antonio Vega Macotela and Eduardo Thomas’s newly commissioned film, Advice from a Caterpillar will be housed in Peninsula Arts at Plymouth University, and will explore notions of representation, identity and visibility by focusing on local residents who appeared as extras in Tim Burton’s 2010 Alice in Wonderland, parts of which were shot in Plymouth.
Matt Stokes will show his multi-screen film at The Gallery at Plymouth College of Art, which will poignantly explore punk’s legacy of protest and resistance, whilst charting the decline of live music venues in the city.
Matt will film local bands including The Bus Station Loonies, Crazy Arm, Suck My Culture and The Damerals, performing in musically significant locations across the city including the former Van Dike club on Exmouth Road and the site where Woods nightclub used to be (now the Billabong store at Drake Circus mall).
Printmaker Ciara Phillips’ installation will be a production space, occupying multiple galleries and social areas at Plymouth Arts Centre.
Ciara, who was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2014, will work collaboratively with groups of women from the city to produce printed textiles that voice their societal concerns.
Participants will include Devon WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality), Plymouth based feminist punk band Suck My Culture, and BA (Hons) Painting, Drawing and Printmaking students from Plymouth College of Art as well as local youth workers and Youth Parliament members.
Peter Liversidge’s installation, housed in The Council House, will be made up of a series of signs representing ideas from diverse individuals in the city, giving significance to voices who often go unheard, with participants including children from Salisbury Road Primary School, members of The Beacon, North Prospect Youth Club, the Pioneers Project at Tamar View Community Resource Centre, and residents of George House homeless hostel.
The signs will be distributed around the city by the public, and include a ritual bonfire burning on the Hoe (5 November) led by Plymouth school children.
This year’s bonfire will be started by a pupil from Salisbury Road School, who will wear a costume designed by fellow pupils and made by the team at the Theatre Royal’s TR2 facility. Liversidge’s work will be accompanied by a new temporary public artwork on the flagpoles on the Hoe throughout October and November.
The feminist arts collective Claire Fontaine will produce a series of illuminated text works to be displayed throughout KARST gallery in Stonehouse. These new works, taken from recent political debates including Brexit and lifting quotes from Donald Trump, tackle questions of morality, agency and freedom of speech calling on the viewer to take a stance.
The programme of events for We The People Are The Work will also include talks, workshops, and film screenings, including a special reunion screening of Colin Gregg and Hugh Stoddart’s 1982 film Remembrance. Shot on location in and around Plymouth, this British independent film featured large numbers of local people and young men in the Royal Navy as extras, alongside Timothy Spall and Gary Oldman in their first significant roles.
Other highlights will include an opening speech by Darren Henley, chief executive of the Arts Council, a free walking tour between the five venues on the opening weekend by curator Simon Morrissey (23 Sept, 11am-2pm, starting at Peninsula Arts and finishing at KARST), Creative Play for Under 5s and other family focused activities, and Plain Speaking gallery tours by Take A Part’s Crazy Glue group from Efford which will be free to the public.
Opportunities for volunteers to take up Gallery Explainer positions will also be available in each of the five exhibiting venues.
Volunteers will be fully trained to enhance the visitor experience, including a comprehensive look at contemporary art and techniques for engaging audiences and an introduction to the exhibition and its artists, delivered by Plymouth-based artist and trainer Rachel Dobbs. Visit the We The People website to find out more and apply.
Full event listings will be available on wethepeoplearethe.work
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(From a press release)