If you haven’t heard already about Oriel Wrescam’s latest platform for experimental contemporary art then look no further, as we walked down the road (literally) to talk to OW’s James Harper to talk about what has been going on at PERICLO (meaning risk in Latin).
So to back track a little, the project has been ongoing since 11th September 2015 with its first instalment ‘GIRLS’: Rebecca Gould & Lindsey Mendick at 10 South Arcade, Chester Street this being the first out of the four exhibitions that program coordinator and curator James Harper has set up.
This exhibition came at a controversial time for Oriel Wrecsam and PERICLO as plans for the creative Hub where under fire from all quarters, but in the spirit of cooperation with market traders cosmetics retailer Beauty Box were invited to lend a hand, and were only too pleased to be able to get involved. The staff at Beauty Box worked with the artists to select a palette of colours that were connected to the exhibition, and then set up a stall to provide nail art for the day. This partnership proved to be a great success, and allowed businesses in the market, and the public to engage with the exhibition in a new and interesting way.
From this more open dialog between the gallery and the traders that later on took part in a private viewing for the second instalment featuring Alfie Strong: ‘Heart Shaped Like A Baseball Bat’ on the 6th November 2015 and found it was successful with the discussions about the art work.
With Heart Shaped Like A Baseball Bat, Alfie’s installation looks at the distortion of memories by crossing the line within his mind, that he likes to reference as a television set. The exhibition is a living portrait of memories once experienced and moments not yet to obtained. This is achieved with walls painted in the colour of heather, and a tapestry of the Scottish Highlands on the stairs representing the spot where Alfie’s father wishes his ashes to be scattered This is a place where Alfie has never been but only seen represented in images. The installation is full of these Easter eggs that reference his everyday memories with a childlike element of masks and make believe attached to them.
In the next couple of days the third instalment of the PERICLO line up will be with us. On the 8th January 2016 from 6pm which will be the launch of ‘Super Market Sweep’ (Bonus Round) curated by Owain McGilvary and Yan White, running until the 20th February. The looks will capture the 90’s nostalgia of the TV program and references the ‘theatrical’ elements that surround supermarkets.
Followed shortly by ‘Harnis Your Hareth’ which translates to longing for home that you can no longer return to, this will be curated by James Harper and will look at the art of documenting and using Wrexham as the first inspiration towards this exhibition.
Whilst talking to James, as well as us discussing the program at length and how he has found integrating PERICLO and working with the market traders, I also asked what was the different between coordinating a program compared to curating an exhibition. James suggested that with coordinating the program for PERICLO he was simply bring together groups of artists that he believed would push the boundaries of contemporary art within the already bustling scene in Wrexham. This is the aim of PERICLO’s program at Oriel Wrecsam.
James then talked about how for him curating is like being a good referee*, and how if you try to take over and interfering too much you just end up frustrating those around you and not bring out the best performance in those individuals, but if you step back, directing only when needed, then everyone can enjoy the game. Know if you just replace the referee for James and the football players for artists this makes complete sense in trying to make that harmonious balance that a curator has to consider when bring together an exhibition.
With PERICLO as whole the instalments in the program have been interesting addition to the Wrexham art scene, and how it is supporting its community in a unique way by involving the market traders and breaking down barriers that exist, and look at how they and others perceive certain aspects of art.
*If you have ever meet James it is no surprise that he likes using football references to describe his curatorial role as he is a massive Everton fan (just shows even curators don’t get it right all the time).