Sally Madge: Acts of Reclamation

11th – 18th November 2021

Free Entry

Open 16th – 18th November, 1 – 4pm

Extra Hours added: Saturday 20th November, 12 – 2.30 pm

Sally Madge frequently worked at ‘at edge’ sites; on coastlines, where sea meets land, bringing with it an endless tide of objects, litter, the residue of plants, rocks, shells, animal and human activities. Acts of Reclamation focuses on two such examples: Shelter (2001-14) a dry-stone hut constructed in two iterations on Lindisfarne that attracted sustained interactions from visitors and passers-by, and Scatter (from 2019), a collection of amorphous assemblages, or cushions, covered with fragments of fabric found washed up in sand and rotting seaweed, meticulously cleaned and carefully stitched together.

Looking back on these works and accumulations from our current vantage point, we are reminded of the appalling circumstances of today: of representations of ‘humanity washed ashore’; of people and their traces and belongings; of the experience of survivors facing ‘hostile environments’ in hardened coastal borders and of contested narratives of who, or what belongs where. Under the banner of ‘Together for Our Planet’, concurrent with this exhibition, the Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) takes place in Glasgow.  Whilst politicians wrangle over frameworks and conventions, here amidst everyday, domestic, neglected, forgotten or otherwise abject materials, the political imperatives of sustainability, the fragility of nature and culture, the precariousness of human-relations effuse like the smell of salt and seaweed.

In the context of an art school – a space of experimentation, contingency and play – we recognise the importance of both being in the work and of imagining and speculating on what might be. Mining the varying contents of the archive, the objects amassed in the gallery both motion towards resolution and speak of their potential to be continually re-configured. As author and curator we share the artist’s border-crossing instincts here in our concern to blur the boundaries between site/ studio/ archive and gallery. As teacher and in her everyday practice, Sally Madge demonstrated care, compassion and imagination, overcoming and resisting borders through being- in- relation with others. Looking forwards, Acts of Reclamation celebrates collaboration, material interconnectedness and prompts thought on the necessary re-imagining of our current forms of existence and the enduring possibilities of renewal.

Exhibition curated by Matthew Hearn with Ysanne Holt.

Copyright: Sally Madge