Coinciding with Yorkshire Sculpture International, BasementArtsProject's On The Corner is a series of five commissions by four artists that responds to the idea that 'there is a basic human impulse to make and connect with objects'. Bruce Davies, the curator of the project, discusses here how art can bring new life to an area of South Leeds with an ever increasing population and rapidly declining access to communal space.

On Saturday 10 August the inaugural Yorkshire Sculpture International celebrated the fiftieth day of its one hundred day run. The halfway mark. Perhaps a time to reflect on what has been and what is yet to come. BasementArtsProject also celebrated at this point the completion of the first three projects relating to On The Corner; our own contribution to YSI 2019 and its independent arm, the visual arts festival Index.

On The Corner consists of five projects by four artists: Keith Ackerman, Dominic Hopkinson, Phill Hopkins and Jadene Imbusch. Saturday 10 August represented the end of two simultaneous, fifty-day residencies at BasementArtsProject, A House Within A Home by Phill Hopkins, and Pitched by Jadene Imbusch. Alongside this was a joint project titled Collaborations On The Corner, which produced eight new works that tie their residencies together. Their exhibitions looked at some of the social issues facing the UK at the present time regarding homelessness, poverty, precarious living and temporary accommodation in relation to the microcosm of South Leeds; an area of extreme depravation and home to BasementArtsProject for the last ten years.

Also part of On The Corner are two large public sculpture projects, designed to not only beautify an area regarded by many as insalubrious, but also create in the public consciousness an awareness of how artworks are produced. At the junction of Tunstall Road and Dewsbury Road, the main roads leading into Leeds from the South, BasementArtsProject has acquired a piece of land on which to site an artwork donated by sculptor Dominic Hopkinson. On an adjacent piece of land on Tunstall Road we will be siting a version of Keith Ackerman’s 2014 sculpture Jacob’s Ladder, scaled up to approximately 8ft in height. From the start we have been very publicly documenting the works as they progress on our website and in the pages of local newspaper South Leeds Life.

This project not only promotes the concepts of art but also ideas surrounding art education, apprenticeships and the technical aspects of creative production. The ages of those involved with the project ranges from 21 year old undergraduate Jadene Imbusch to 61 year old recent graduate Keith Ackerman. Dominic Hopkinson and Phill Hopkins are both internationally exhibiting artists; at the 2017 Venice Architecture Biennial Hopkinson exhibited work begun at BasementArtsProject in 2016, and Hopkins had a solo exhibition, Flyers: Recent Sculptures and Drawings, at Leeds Art Gallery in 1991.

The other significant factor in this project is the location of BasementArtsProject and the two public sculptures. The three are all located within a one minute walk of each other and stand at the motorway junction that carries traffic between Leeds, Wakefield and London. We see this project as forming a gateway between the two major cities on the Yorkshire Sculpture International map. As the curator of this project I also see connections between it and Henry Moore’s desire to provide the deprived community of Tower Hamlets, London with sculpture in the 1960s in the form of Old Flo.

Bruce Davies
Curator, BasementArtsProject
August 2019
 

The Henry Moore Foundation awarded £2,300 towards this exhibition.

On The Corner opened at BasementArtsProject on 22 June 2019 and continues until 29 September 2019, with the public sculptures expected to be installed later this year. For more information see www.basementartsproject.com.

On The Corner responds to the YSI 2019 statement proposed by artist Phyllida Barlow: 'Sculpture is the most anthropological of the art forms' and the idea that ‘there is a basic human impulse to make and connect with objects.’ The exhibition was planned to coincide with Yorkshire Sculpture International and the independent visual arts festival running alongside, Index.

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