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Baldock Pope Zahle

Preview: Friday 18 March, 6:00 - 8:00pm

Exhibition dates: 19 March - 18 June 2016

'Baldock Pope Zahle' presents a new sculptural installation by Jonathan Baldock, and newly commissioned work by Nicholas Pope and Maria Zahle in Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art's spacious and newly opened up main gallery. The exhibition brings together artists of different generations who each explore an inquisitive relationship to materials and making. The show has been conceived as a conversation around shared formal and thematic approaches and, while the work is diverse, each artist makes sculpture that is resolutely unmonumental. In using materials such as glass, textiles and ceramics — Baldock, Pope and Zahle translate their own circumstances and lived experiences into exuberant and highly emotive work. 

Whether it is through a process of stitching, drawing or glass blowing; the body and its myriad of imperfections are mirrored in the wonky, the awkward and asymmetrical. While each artist has often worked on a larger scale, their respective work has remained tied to the intimacy of the handmade.  Within the exhibition Jonathan Baldock will present a carpeted installation including domestically scaled figurative sculptures. The artist's recent work has focused on a highly stylised articulation of the human body, combining Modernist and folkloric motifs. The artist's cast of enigmatic sculptures and constructed objects are like characters from an imagined theatrical production. With their distended anthropomorphism and their frequent use of bright colours and soft materials, Baldock's sculptures are luxuriant and sensual, yet these sensibilities remain tempered by qualities that resist easy assimilation. 

Nicholas Pope, working with master glass maker James Maskrey, has made a new series of 14 glass chalices inspired by the Seven Virtues and Seven Deadly Sins. Made over a six month period at the National Glass Centre in 2015, this commission is the first time Pope has worked with glass. Working from the artist's original drawings, the glass chalices translate mark making into glass blowing, manifesting a complex relationship between artist and maker. Maskrey, a glass maker with over 25 years experience, noted that the commission was one of his most technically demanding projects to date. With the drawings displayed alongside the chalices, audiences are offered a unique opportunity to see this translation in proximity. To accompany the exhibition, Pope's 'Yahweh and the Seraphim' (1995) will be presented in the UK for the first time at Sunderland Minster. Last displayed at the Stedelijk Museum in Holland, the sculpture articulates Pope's theological interests, leading on from the artist's recent installation of 'Apostles Speaking in Tongues' at Salisbury Cathedral in 2014. 

Maria Zahle will be creating a work that will traverse the 30 metre expanse of the main gallery. Using rip-stop nylon, the sculpture will zig-zag from floor to ceiling across the exhibition cutting the space in two. By responding to the architecture of the gallery, with its expansive floor space and low ceiling, the artist's work frames the both the building and the spectator's movement through the exhibition. Zahle's signature use of rip-stop nylon, a textile used for making kites and sails, amplifies the material's inherent lightness and strength. Zahle, much like Baldock and Pope, brings a delicacy to her chosen materials. Zahle will also show two sculptures made in sandcast bronze, and in both scale and stature the work will be reminiscent of the human figure. 

The exhibition will be supplemented with new writing, events, talks and workshops across the NGCA and Sunderland Minster engaging the public in the themes of the exhibition. Nicholas Pope's glass chalices will be touring to Chapter in Cardiff, opening on the 8th July and will be accompanied by further commissions in an exhibition curated by Hannah Firth. 'Baldock Pope Zahle' has been initiated by NGCA curator George Vasey and is generously supported by Sunderland City Council, The National Glass Centre, Chapter, C'Art, Arts Council England, and Grosserer L.F. Foghts Fond.

About the artists: 

Jonathan Baldock (B. 1980, United Kingdom) Baldock graduated with an MA from the Royal College of Art 2005. In 2013 he was awarded an Abbey Fellowship at the British School in Rome and was granted an ACME Firestation Residency in 2010. Recent solo exhibitions include 'The Soft Machine' at Chapter, Cardiff (2014) and 'A Strange cross between a Butcher's Shop and a Nightclub' at Wysing Art Centre, Cambridge (2013). He has an upcoming solo exhibition at Nicelle Beauchene, New York in 2016. Recent group shows and two-person exhibitions include 'Only the Lonely/Suels les solitaires' at Le Galerie Centre D'art Contemporain, Paris and 'The Varieties - Dance First, Think Later' at Harris Museum and Art Gallery, Preston (both 2015) and 'Warm Bodies', (two person show with Olga Balema) Kunstvereniging Diepenheim (NL) (2014). Baldock is represented by Nicelle Beauchene, New York. 

Nicholas Pope (B. 1949, Australia) Pope graduated from Bath Academy of Art in 1973. He has represented Britain at the Venice Biennale and participated in 'British Art Now, An American Perspective' at Guggenheim Museum, touring across America (both 1980). In 1996 he showed 'Apostles Speaking in Tongues' at Tate Britain, recently re-exhibiting the sculpture at Salisbury Cathedral, Salisbury (2014). In 2013, he held a solo exhibition at New Art Centre, Roche Court Sculpture Park, Salisbury. Also in 2013 Ridinghouse published an extensive monograph on the artist. Pope was included in 'United Enemies: The Problem of Sculpture in Britain in the 1960s and 1970s' at the Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, UK (2011). Pope's work is included in many public collections including Arts Council Collection, Kroller Muller Museum, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Stedelijk Museum, Tate, Wakefield Art Gallery and Walker Art Gallery amongst others. 

Maria Zahle (B. 1979, Denmark) Zahle graduated from the Royal Academy Schools in 2009. Recent solo exhibitions include 'My Favourite Phone Number', Arcade, London and 'Politics' at Tenderbooks, London (both 2015) and 'Dogs & Sails', New Walk Museum and Art Gallery, Leicester (2014) - developed during the artist residency granted by the Alexandra Reinhardt Memorial Award. Recent group exhibitions include '#4', 6GINS, curated by James Worley, Liverpool (2015) and '1:1/10' (in dialogue with Philippe van Snick), Tatjana Pieters Gallery, Ghent, Belgium (2015). She has an upcoming solo exhibition at CentroCentro, Madrid (2016) and is finishing a permanent commission at the newly built Institute of Energy Technology at Ålborg University, Denmark. She is currently online artist-in-residence at AkermanDaly. Zahle is a member of the band Squares & Triangles. Zahle is represented by Arcade, London.


-Preceding the exhibition on the 1-4 March the North-East based dance company FERTILE GROUND will use the main gallery as rehearsal space that will be open to the public. This will culminate in a one-off performance made especially for the NGCA's main gallery on the 24 June 2016. 

-From 29 January to the 2 April, the NGCA will present 'Pot Holes' in the project space, an exhibition of drawings by Eric Bainbridge from 1981 to 2015. The exhibition is the culminating event of 'drawing ?' a six month programme of exhibitions and events exploring the contemporary relevance of drawing across the North-East. The exhibition has been co-curated by Mike Collier and George Vasey. 

-Nicholas Pope will be releasing a new book of drawings later in 2016 via Ridinghouse. 

-Chapter, Preview: 8th July, Exhibition dates: 9th July - 18th September. Chapter, Market Road, Cardiff, CF5 1QE, Wales.



Jonathan Baldock, PA UBU (2015) - Installation shot at The College of Wooster Art Museum, USA. Photo: Petr Wiese

Nicholas Pope with James Maskrey, The Conundrum of the Chalices of the Seven Deadly Sins and Seven Virtues (2015)     Photo: David Williams

Maria Zahle, Dogs and Sails (2014) 
Install shot, New Walk Museum & Art Gallery, Leicester. Image: courtesy of Arcade, London.