Sheffield may be well known these days for its consistent annual student satisfaction and its rejuvenation of the infamous post-industrial Park Hill estate, but many would not guess that it hosts a modest and thriving art scene, as such, Bloc Projects is one of these destinations for the ‘artist-led’ acolyte. Forming an alliance with Sheffield Hallam University, S1, Site Gallery et al., Bloc Projects champions what we call ‘emerging artists’, classed as those in early to mid-stage in their career. A member’s show is an opportunity not just to engage a broader local audience, but also a national scope of artists who want to align themselves with a supportive network, a hub of exchange and professional development and who better to select this year’s members show than Kim McAleese, Programme Director of Grand Union. In conversation, David McLevy, Director of Bloc Projects, highlighted the importance of bringing another voice to curate the space as well as the comparison to a solo commission set up. Programming the likes of Alice Theobald and Prem Sabib, McAleese’s selection reinforces names of some we may recognise and some less well-known. Each work in this show speaks for itself in volumes while not stepping on another’s toes.
Eleanor Breeze’s ‘Untitled’ brings a singular figurative point of reference to the space which is otherwise abstractly dominated by works inspired by or originating from anecdotal self-dialogue. ‘Untitled’, an undisclosed portrait of a friend or love interest of the artist, overlooks at a vantage over the space capturing the visitor’s gaze. Neighbouring is Liam Aitken’s ‘View 15th December 2014’, a personal work in response to the death of the artist’s father similarly exploring the perception of memory. A poignant vision of a disfigured paperclip balancing on a flat surface has a surprising allure. Its shades of blue hint to Aitken’s specialism in colour experimentation, but the title of the work provokes a deeper meaning – the subject unresolved feelings.
Siân Williams adds to the exhibition’s multifaceted dimension. Going beyond walls to the ceiling, the height, weight and sass of ‘Disco Drape’ gives substance to ‘Periphery Series’ by Clare Holdstock, evoking modernist architecture and its overlooked socialist aesthetic. The weighty duo of cement fondue leans against the wall as though thoughtfully disposed of, waiting for a sympathetic onlooker to resurrect it, however beautiful in its own solitude.
Not eager to shock but not promoting safety either, Kim McAleese has selected strong contenders from the local burgeoning art scene and broader geographical representation. A successful blend of mediums come together easily to satisfy a variety of tastes. Interplay occurs between the conceptual and procedural: references to weaving in one and an act of crochet in another, a ‘mingling’ of personal histories and time-based media all take centre stage.
Bloc Projects Members Show 2018, Bloc Projects, Sheffield, 21 July – 4 August 2018.
Yasmine Rix is a curator based in Cambridge.