Artists: Susi Bellamy, Brighid Black, Stu Burke, Tim Croft, Charles Danby & Rob Smith, Anne Dodds, Nick Fox, Paul Goodfellow, Laura Harrington, Emma Hornsby, Alexandra Hughes, Rachael Kidd, Lucy Livingston, Birgitta Lundmark, Mark Lyons, Louise Mackenzie, Sally Madge, Craig Mayhew, David Meadows, Simon Morris, Simon Parish, Andrew Potts, Jenny Purrett, Ginny Reed, Marjolaine Ryley, Sabina Sallis, Jackie Sewell, Rachel Sharp, Jacquie Utley, Maureen Walmsley, James Watts, Jasper Weinstein Sheffield, Louise Winter, Zara Worth

LUME Projects in collaboration with Zara Worth present ‘Eulogy’, an exhibition of work by over thirty established and emerging artists, unpicking the enduring love affair between artist and nature. In their first exhibition together, they consider a theme appearing at some point and in some form during the careers of many artists. Nature appears in art in many guises; as literal imitation of nature’s passing beauty, as a Trojan Horse for ideas, as a medium to communicate with art history, as a mechanism for exploration of botanical and natural sciences, and as a metaphor for personal introspection.

Bringing the artworks off the walls and plinths, with many of the works merely grazing knee-height, and presented upon the gallery floor, the exhibition makes a meadow of the gallery, navigated via a pathway amongst the works. Meadows themselves embody the nostalgia and romanticism attached to the pastoral picturesque despite being in decline in Britain.

The works employ various media – the ‘little deaths’ of photographic works, laborious studies in graphite and paint, sculptural and assembled works, and needlepoint – showing the wide reaching curiosity inspired by nature. The natural and the manmade are entangled and confused, as if the works communicate the separation anxiety from ‘mother nature’ of an increasingly urbanised world. In a consumer driven, technology obsessed culture, remembering our connection to nature seems to be an appropriate antidote for a generation distanced from the natural world.

Used as a cipher or code, imagery from nature can carry hidden messages, acting as metaphors for apparently disconnected subjects. Susi Bellamy scrutinises fickleness of fashion culture by using the transience of a blooming flower. She comments on an industry know for its use of floral imagery, ironically using this very imagery to critique it. Marjolaine Ryley’s works mediate with the artist’s own past through images alluding to her experience of a less than conventional upbringing. Ryley’s photographic works and objects commune with the quixotic, contradictory way of life that she used to know. A clinical quality imbues some works, embodying both a sense of society’s increasing distance from nature, and a bridging of art and science. Laura Harrington collaborates with scientists as part of her practice, whilst Louise Mackenzie and Craig Mayhew choose to depict a weirder nature, belonging to the wider ecological system.

The exhibition’s title, ‘Eulogy’, points to the underlying essence of all images of nature in art. Just as cut flowers are dead from the moment they are no longer connected to their roots, these imitations can only ever be tributes or a memorial to a superior form of creation.

LUME Projects is directed by Northumbria Fine Art graduates Craig Mayhew, David Meadows and Andrew Potts. ‘Eulogy’ sees fellow Northumbria graduate, Zara Worth, artist and writer, take on the role of curator. All are currently involved in Northumbria University’s Fine Art graduate programmes, including the Gallery North internship and Graduate Studios Northumbria.

Port of Tyne Gallery, The Customs House, South Shields

As part of an ongoing collaboration between the two galleries of showcasing emerging artists’ practice in the North East, to coincide with ‘Existence Experiments’ and ‘Eulogy’, Port of Tyne Gallery, The Customs House, South Shields, is showcasing:

Gareth Hudson: In Heaven
In his three-screen video, Gareth Hudson asks what will we see and hear in heaven? Taking the Tibetan Book of the Dead as his inspiration, Hudson presents the three stages of Death in Buddhist theology: the first is the physical throes of death; the second is spiritual enlightenment; the third is rebirth.

Theresa Poulton: Objects – More Expansion
Poulson’s hard-edged, abstract, geometric paintings fluctuate between the historical tradition of canvas painting and ‘painting in the expanded field’. She creates illusory environments of contrasting colour, distorted perspective, line, shape and form.

Both exhibitions run from 26 April to 16 May.