Celebrating Ceolfrith Gallery & Press
28 November 2015 - 23 January 2016
Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art (NGCA) celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2015 and we have invited CIRCA Projects to explore the history of the institution. The gallery began as Ceolfrith Gallery & Press and Sunderland Arts Centre and was originally titled 'The Bookshop' in 1969. In line with the original motivations of the initiator of the 'The Bookshop', CIRCA will open a new bookshop at the NGCA:
Stocking a wide range of 20th century culture... ...many aspects of contemporary culture could be seen, experienced and enjoyed by the community and presented by artists with national and international reputations... the encouragement of artists living and working in the borough and the introduction of these artists to the community through readings, publications, exhibitions and lectures.
'The Bookshop' project at NGCA revives Ceolfrith's ethos. It will host a series of live events including performances, readings, screenings and workshops to activate the space. Updating Carrell's original aims, a curated selection of merchandise, artists' books and periodicals about twenty-first century culture will be available to buy, alongside a selection of Ceolfrith's own archival material. Inspired by the University of Sunderland tutor Robin Crozier's 'networked' approach to art production, CIRCA will work with four young artists to initiate a new network to reflect The Bookshop's ethos and the radical ideas that came out of the 1970s art scene in Sunderland. The artists are Danni Harper, Kathryn Barnett, Mohsen Mousavi and Stacey Davidson, whose work is similarly forward thinking.
Sat 28 Nov 1:00pm / Launch Event and Live Music by Basic House (Opal Tapes) + Chlorine
Sat 5 Dec 1:00pm / Zine Workshop and Performance by Fritz Welch
Sat 12 Dec 12:00 / Book Launch COOKING with SOUTH SHIELDS at Central Library, South Shields
Sat 19 Dec 1:00pm / Film Screenings and Discussion Symbolism, Poetry and Censorship in Artists' Film from Iran/UK
Sat 9 Jan 1:00pm / Zine-making and Performance Joe Posset + Dook
Sat 16 Jan 1:00pm / Zine-making Print response to Twitter and Instagram Residencies by Stacey Davidson
Sat 23 Jan 1:00pm / In Conversation Event Social Memory and the Landscape: Danni Harper in conversation with John Kippin and Patrick Low
Wed 9 Dec 5:00pm / Film Screening and Discussion Amber Films: Today I'm With You
Wed 13 Jan 5:00pm / Live Performance Underscore
Wed 20 Jan 5:00pm / Film Screening Luke Fowler and Mark Fell: To the Editor of Amateur Photographer A film commissioned by and about Pavilion in Leeds, and their roots in 1983 as a Feminist Photography Centre
Online Throughout / Twitter Residency Sam Blackwood @bookshop_ngca
Online Throughout / Instagram Residency Olivia Dunbar @bookshop_ngca
Online Throughout / SoundCloud Archive An online field recording archive Organised with Kathryn Barnett @ACutAScore
History: 'The Bookshop', Ceolfrith Gallery and Press and Sunderland Arts Centre
Originating as 'The Bookshop' on Frederick Street, Sunderland, founder Chris Carrell then began to publish and exhibit works by setting up Ceolfrith Gallery & Press. The Bookshop / Ceolfrith Bookshop, Gallery & Press (1969) explored the authorial shift from artist to audience through self-publishing visual scores, conceptual writing and poetry, producing overlaps therein. It published and exhibited work by: Bob Cobbing & Writer's Forum, Henry Chopin, Dennis Oppenheim, Andre Breton, Dom Sylvester Houédard, Raoul Hausmann, Robin Crozier, Ian Hamilton Finlay and Jack Smith.
The visual poetry of artists working with 'The Bookshop' and Ceolfrith, like Cobbing, Houedard and Hamilton-Finlay, moved authorship to the reader, encouraged the audience to read, adapt and claim the artworks as their own. Performances, readings, exhibitions and other events in 'The Bookshop' and Ceolfrith reached out to the local audience, asking them to engage with art and books directly.
This interest in trying to establish a wider audience for the arts and a multi-disciplinary approach at 'The Bookshop' and Ceolfrith, saw the development of Sunderland Arts Centre (1971) becoming one of several Arts Centres established throughout the UK at this time. The Arts Centre worked across disciplines with social clubs in Sunderland, writing, theatre, classical, film, folk and contemporary music groups, and even with Sunderland Football club. Chris Carrell, the founding director, after establishing Sunderland Arts Centre, moved to Glasgow to become the second director of The Third Eye Centre (now the Centre for Contemporary Art, Glasgow).
About CIRCA Projects
The project has been kindly supported by Sunderland City Council, Arts Council England and Sunderland University.
Image: courtesy of CIRCA Projects