As it celebrates its 110th anniversary, the Grundy Art Gallery is delighted to announce details of its upcoming Spring Programme and its plans for reopening the galleries and shop.

The Spring programme activity is now live on the Grundy’s website and social media platforms, however the gallery is due to reopen very soon in line with the government’s coronavirus roadmap. If all goes to plan, the Grundy will open to the public from 11am on Tuesday 18 May 2021.


REMOTE WORK brings together new work by Nicola Dale, Kieran Leach, David Penny, Shy Bairns and Ciarán Wood; five artists/artist groups whose proposals were selected from an Open Call commissioning opportunity. Advertised by the Grundy Art Gallery in April 2020 the opportunity was open to artists living and working in the North West.  

imposters artwork, a graffitid air conditioning unit
Imposters, Kieran Leach

Recognising the impact that COVID-19 was beginning to have on the livelihoods and the artistic and career development of artists, this commissioning opportunity was designed to give access to financial, administrative and professional development resources at a time when much of the infrastructure that artists rely on had ground to a halt. Alongside this, Grundy Art Gallery also made a commitment to show the work that the artists developed at a point in the future.   

That future has now arrived.  

One year, almost to the day that the UK’s first lockdown started, Grundy Art Gallery will bring together the results of this one year remote commissioning process. New work by Nicola Dale, Kieran Leach, David Penny, Shy Bairns and Ciarán Wood will be installed at the gallery from 27 March and while we wait for our visitors to be able to see it in person in May, we will provide access to the exhibition online via Grundy Art Gallery’s website and social media platforms. Devised in collaboration with the commissioned artists, Grundy Art Gallery will also deliver a public programme of artists’ talks, workshops, recorded performances and lots more that our audiences will be able to access remotely.  

Echo in Time, Ciarán Wood
Echo Chambers, Nicola Dale

Whilst created in isolation from each other and diverse in terms of the materials and techniques used, the REMOTE WORK commissions coalesce around shared themes. In the work of Kieran Leach and Ciarán Wood, commonplace objects and everyday places have undergone lockdown scrutiny. Through the artists’ gaze we are alerted to the unconventional beauty of things we would ordinarily pass by and reminded of the social function of public spaces; a function that ordinarily we take for granted.  

The work of Shy Bairns and Nicola Dale sculpturally, sonically and fictionally explores the rich territory of the “echo chamber”, which is variously described as a physical space that allows sound to reverberate and an environment (real or virtual) where existing views and opinions are reinforced and left unchallenged. In the work of Nicola Dale a circular motif informs both the content and form of the artist’s sound and sculptural works as well as directing decisions about how the work is displayed. Taking an equally multi-layered and multi-disciplinary approach, the project undertaken by Shy Bairns has seen the artists making work in the real and virtual world. Structured around a complex web of fictions told by fake and real voices, this work directly speaks to now where increased online immersion is just one of the by-products of lockdown living.  

David Penny’s work continues this exploration of the meeting point between the physical and digital realms. Here, an increased engagement with digital practices during lockdown, has seen the artist bringing into real life, objects and images of significance, which had previously only existed virtually.   

Lubaina Himid : The Mourning Kangas

Alongside the new work produced by the REMOTE WORK commissioned artists, Grundy Art Gallery will also present, new and as yet unseen paintings by North West based, Turner Prize winner Lubaina Himid. This new body of work entitled, ‘The Mourning Kangas’ was also made during the UK’s first lockdown period.  

Separate to the REMOTE WORK commissioning process, but linked through its lockdown genesis, Himid’s ‘The Mourning Kangas’; shows the artist’s ongoing interest in the visual language and communicative power of kangas; colourful patterned fabrics worn by people, mostly women, all over east Africa. In this latest series of kanga paintings, iconography recurrent in her work is joined by motifs such as a cage and a speed camera; imagery that speak to limits and containment and of the times in which the works were made. 

Winning the Turner Prize in 2017, Himid is an internationally recognised artist based in Preston who has strong links to the region and to Blackpool in particular; Blackpool being the first place in the UK that Himid lived after leaving Zanzibar; the place of her birth. Lubaina Himid’s 2019 acrylic and canvas work Crown has also recently been acquired into the Grundy Art Gallery’s permanent collection as a gift from Contemporary Art Society 2020/21 and will also be on display at Grundy Art Gallery as part the Spring Programme. 


Reclaim Blackpool - Mapping Sexual Harrasment
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