— Kate Liston, James Clarkson,Michael MulvihillDan Holdsworth, Steven Ball,
Sarah Jury & Tilly Fowler, Lea Provenzano, Alistair Robinson, Dawn Bothwell,
Ben Jeans HoughtonLothar Götz, Ralf Brög, Alice & Joe Woodhouse.


The exhibition «solo-show» borrows its title from a solo exhibition by Joseph Wright of Derby in 1785. 1

 «solo-show» is the final public exhibition at the Reg Vardy Gallery, located within the art school at Ashburne House, University of Sunderland. The show takes as its point of departure it’s architectural space, and it’s historic, current, and future circumstances, andthe work of artist Kate Liston, who has extended invitations to 14 artists and writers to participate in the exhibition, which attempts to both question and raise ideas around visitors expectations of the solo-show; about public and private, authorship and collaboration, site and space, solo and group, and the relationships between the artist and curator, site, and audience.

The exhibition presents new and existing works by Kate Liston, James Clarkson,Michael Mulvihill and Dan Holdsworth, aswell as 6 new essays and texts published on-site in two Zines by Steven Ball, Sarah Jury & Tilly Fowler, Lea Provenzano, Alistair Robinson, Dawn Bothwell; and 4 curated slide-show projects by Ben Jeans Houghton,Lothar Götz, Ralf Brög, and Alice & Joe Woodhouse.

«solo-show» emerges as a cooperative venture between the 15 participating artists and writers, with existing individual works, objects created on-site, installations and spatial ensembles which, in turn, constitute both individual and collective works. This approach to the production of an exhibition interweaves ideas of Baroque temporary festive architecture with philosophical approaches to new forms of commonality, as formulated, for example by Giorgio Agamben and Simon Critchley. Interdisciplinary avant-garde models and artistic approaches to the negation of concretisations, the marketability of works and individuality, as implemented by groups like Jikken Kobo in Japan in the 1950s 2 , play just as much a role here as the game with rules and chance in the form of the happening, questions about authorship and the reinterpretation of language and content as thematicised by the art world.

The working methods and artistic approaches of the artists participating in «solo-show»are characterized by a series of similar features: they explore and test the production and possibilities of meaning offered by traditional artistic media such as painting, sculpture, photography, and installations.

The exhibition plays with ideas concerning self-organisation, the collective and the actionist and generally adopts a performative approach to the exhibitions space and to artists’ works and their handling of materials and spaces.

This is the last public exhibition to be held in Ashburne House which is to be sold as the ‘art department’ moves to the University of Sunderland’s city centre campus. The site which sits within Backhouse Park, named after a renowned local astronomer and patron who gifted the park and building to the Sunderland Corporation has been a School of Art since 1901, when it was first established as The Government School of Arts and Sciences. Backhouse built an observatory from which he published ‘Observations of West Hendon House’, and ‘Catalogue of 9842 Stars Very Conspicuous to the Naked Eye for the Epoch of 1900’.


«solo-show» is curated by Sam Watson with Kate Liston


1 Wikipedia


2 Jikken Kobo (Experimental Workshop) was founded in Tokyo in 1951, against the backdrop of a country traumatized by Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and suffering from postwar austerity measures. This determinedly interdisciplinary group of 14 artists, musicians, choreographers and poets orientated themselves towards the pre-war European and American avant-gardes. Its members, many of whom were self-taught, worked individually or in groups, and their guiding interests included the piano work of John Cage, Martha Graham’s choreography, and the sculpture of Alexander Calder and Isamu Noguchi. Active for about seven years, they operated mostly outside of museum spaces and distanced themselves from the academic discourses around musique concrète and electro-acoustic composition. One of Jikken Kobo’s co-founders, Katsuhiro Yamaguchi, likened the workshop to ‘Bauhaus without a building’.