In Between Space by Stephen Iles a transformation in the history of a landmark building is explored through photographic documentation, on display within the decommissioned building itself. The Ground Floor Gallery at The Tetley is finally being used for a gallery space, left fairly sparse it lives up to the exhibition title Between Space; somewhere between gallery and hireable event space.
Iles’ work is a documentary of the process of change and regeneration which took place within the building. The images are undated but were made between 2012 and 2014, during the conversion of the ancestral Tetley brewing headquarters into a new cultural space. However location, site or moment of capture are not apparent or inherent in the work, the photographs look more at the idea and concept of ‘space’ than of the specific details and landmarks of the captured space itself.
The dark royal blue of the walls creates a distinct and specific site for the exhibition to sit in amongst the clatter and noise of the building, a new space allowing viewers time to reflect on the images. Yet the red paper stripes that run vertically, dividing the walls, bring tension and create individual intersecting spaces within the one unifying area. The concept of ‘between space’ seems well adhered to, however the exhibition feels constrained, as if unable to fully ascertain its own dimensions and status.
Each image examines a space within a space, these new secondary spaces created naturally through shifting elements and working practices taking place within the whole building. The exhibition studies the idea of space through image and text; armed with well-chosen quotes displayed prominently alongside, to bolster the large photographic studies. A quote by William Tucker states how space is “The void, emptiness. Between things, above, about and below things…” which seems to be a perfect explanation when studying the concept of space yet also a contradiction when looking at Iles’ work itself, as the images portray a space which is often defined and detailed rather than a void.
In one image heavy duty containers are stacked, empty with open lids to allow one to slot into another, these gaping, grey lids tessellate their closing pattern, overlaying themselves, complimenting the tessellating parquet of the floor underneath. Another sees crossing and intersecting scaffolding create a new level and constricted space within the fuller space which holds it.
The exhibition also expands throughout the building, with one image found in the dining room and another in the old boardroom, the image in the boardroom really standing out with its three shrouded, dust covered objects, statue like upon wooden pallets, wood against a wood floor, white shrouds against a white wall. This image like the others in the show uses shape to create new structures and surfaces within the found spaces. Between Space finds the spaces created through change, new space within old, it creates new structures and intersects the change in history and use of the building. Iles’ documentation sheds a detailed and intimate light on the repurposing of history and showcases it well in this introspective exhibition.
Stephen Iles also works as a documentary photographer for Corridor8.
Abi Mitchell is a writer based in West Yorkshire.