Blue Monkey Network: Out of Hours, TEN

An exclusive Blue Monkey Network out of hours viewing of TEN, an exhibition of works from Towner’s own unique and extraordinary collection, celebrates the gallery’s tenth anniversary in its current location.

The exhibition has been curated by a group of Towner’s team members who have worked and volunteered at the gallery since 2009 and who have chosen from works in the permanent Collection that have been acquired in the last ten years. The exhibition features an exciting range of painting, print and sculpture, and reveals new Collection works alongside some well-loved favourites.

Responding to the tenth anniversary exhibition, we’ve invited four original Blue Monkey members who have been part of the Network since its beginning in 2011, to talk about works in the exhibition. Members, Sheila Hay, Paul Bartholomew and Mike and Steve Ring will select pieces from the exhibition which hold a particular interest or resonance for them, and will talk about the work from their own very unique perspectives.

Sheila Hay is an artist, a ceramicist and an educator. Her work explores traditional crafts and materials in innovative forms and contexts. She has collaborated with Towner Gallery on many occasions: exhibiting, co-curating, lecturing and helping set up major exhibitions.

Paul Bartholomew has always been a champion of non representational art. He feels that the language of geometry is an important tool in finding a unification and empathy across the huge spectrum of art history. This sense of historical unity in turn helps Paul to make work that is firmly planted in the present. In a recent interview, Paul described this: “Geometry celebrates our aesthetic and spiritual similarities regardless of culture, unencumbered by representational or narrative content.” Paul’s key influences are artists including Malevich, Sol Lewitt, Uccello, Giotto and early renaissance through to modernist architecture and the beauty of aviation.

Paul and Sheila were both members of the Blue Monkey team which curated an exhibition of works from the Towner Collection, New Eyes, in 2011-12.

Mike and Steve Ring are collaborative contemporary pop artists based in central Eastbourne. Their practice focuses on large two and three dimensional artworks, which include themes that relate to modern day urban society. Their recent work deals with addiction (substance, internet, OCD, gaming etc ). They have both lived in central London at various times, and are now seeing issues that were once considered Metropolitan now spilling out into rural towns and communities.

We will also be joined by Stephanie Sutton. Steph will be working with Judith over the coming months to develop Blue Monkey Network’s future events programme and will eventually take over as Network organiser in 2020. Steph will also choose a piece of work in the exhibition to talk about from her own perspective.

Steph is a freelance curator and researcher, working across art, design and architecture. She has worked professionally within the visual arts for over 12 years, specialising in archives, curating, public programming and research, working with organisations including The Wellcome Collection, RIBA, Camden Arts Centre, V&A Museum of Childhood and Tate Library and Archive.

Notable projects include ‘The Brutalist Playground’ exhibition and associated public programme at the RIBA (2015) and ‘Radical ESSEX’, a multi-disciplinary project that re-examined histories of Essex in relation to radicalism in thought, lifestyle, politics and architecture, coordinated by Focal Point Gallery (2016). She is currently working on a EPSRC funded research project ‘Playing the Archive’ – an ambitious programme of research and cultural production led by UCL Institute of Education and The University of Sheffield – exploring the nature of play by bringing together archives, spaces and technologies of play. In addition, Stephanie has worked with contemporary artist Steven Claydon over the past five years, overseeing studio and project management, coordinating large-scale exhibitions, from production to installation.

Stephanie graduated from the Royal College of Art with an MA in History of Design in 2014 and holds a BA in Fine Art and Visual Culture from UWE Bristol (2008). Her academic research has focused on post-war architecture, urban history and the material culture of childhood.

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