Lockdown Slop

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For the last year everything in our society has been pared back like never before, highlighting what things really are ‘essential’ to the fundamental working of our lives. Our health, our food, our families, our communities. Thrown into sharp relief is the incredible importance of the NHS, of all key workers and community volunteers in many different sectors that are working hard to maintain our daily wellbeing- smiling eyes behind visors and masks or the cheerful greeting of a delivery driver have lifted our spirits countless times. Whilst art cannot compare to the amazing impact of these individuals through the pandemic, we feel that it still has an important place in our society: to inspire us to make the most of our precious lives, and show us that we can create, invent and experiment whatever our circumstances. Art should be used to communicate ideas, to express emotion, rabble rouse and protest. It’s distraction, entertainment and education, the sharing of knowledge beyond our own perspectives. East Anglia is made of vast landscapes, endless skies and expansive coastlines which make it the unique and beautiful place that it is, however this beauty can come hand in hand with isolation and distance. Access to contemporary art can be one of the challenges the area presents, something we want to address with Lockdown Slop. The project brings the work of five innovative artists based in East Anglia directly into homes across the region. The amazing artists featured in this publication and online exhibition are Nicky Deeley, Maddie Exton, Matthew Challenger, Bob Bicknell-Knight and Georgia Green. Their work spans very different artforms, subject matters and styles, but all represent fresh and compelling contemporary practice which we hope will transport you somewhere else, and share with you something different, at a time when every day is much the same.

Nicky Deeley is a filmmaker and performance artist based in Norwich. Her surreal costumed world opens up the possibilities of landscape- the idea that art and performance can be transformative, transporting you into another place entirely. Her work accentuates the beauty, wonder and mystery of the natural world as something to delve into and explore. Nicky says “My films, drawings, and performances are inspired by myth, psychology and history, these regularly have characters who combine the human-like with botanical and animal characteristics, these are also tinted by the lens of the psychedelic, folk horror, the occult, and science fiction tropes”.

Bob Bicknell-Knight is an artist and curator from Suffolk, working with installation, sculpture and digital media. Bob’s sculptures and paintings make physical the virtual world, emphasising the inescapability of cyberspace- there is no longer an offline. The work captures the collision of public and private, of offline and online, of work and play. Bob’s work is inspired by the video game Horizon Zero Dawn, and he tell us “I was really interested by this story of over-automation, and how the objects you encounter within the game from our present day, like cars and buildings, have become relics of the game’s virtual past, created and modelled by game developers in our present day. These objects have virtually degraded, having been affected by digital nature. I really liked this relationship, flowing between the present and the future, the digital and the physical. This led me to think about bit rot, and how data slowly, physically and digitally, degrades over time. The process of bit rot occurs over many years, due to imperfect insulation on flash drives, floppy disks losing their magnetic orientation and by storing CDs and DVDs in warm, humid environments, causing them to physically and visually rot. I was really drawn to the idea that the objects within the game world were rotting in a number of different ways; digitally within the game world, both physically and digitally through the embedded game data within my PS4 and physically through the actual game disk.”

Matthew Challenger is a contemporary painter living and working in Cambridgeshire. Matthew’s bold bright colours are a refreshing change from the usual pallet of greys and greens in rural art, and his snapshot style creates intentionally composed images, as opposed to merely representational work, giving us an insight into a unique way of perceiving the world. The pieces highlight aspects of our culture’s visual language often taken for granted, like the posters, shop signs and adverts that surround us every day. Matthew says “My body of work is a reaction to my environment, of both social and physical spaces. The things I create are biographical; in some cases being direct snapshots of things I’ve seen. Being working class and raised in a rural market town influences my work, the visual culture of my immediate surroundings is present throughout, from butchers signs to a homemade poster advertising a ‘sensual massage’. I aim to be unfiltered and unobtuse, that is to say, if I’m drawn to something and want to represent it within my work then no subject is off-limits”.

Georgia’s delicate prints invoke nostalgic stories, creating narratives through the symbiotic relationship of disparate elements. Ghostly figures, blocky architecture and the natural world create dreamlike spaces, illustrating indeterminate time periods and places. Although deeply personal, the works act as a catalyst for our own memories and experiences to come alive. Georgia, a print maker based in Norwich, spends long hours exploring the footpaths along the banks of the River Yare, and says she often pauses “to collect flora and observe fauna which I duplicate and translate into my colourful prints. For me, landscape is not so much a view of a place as it is a culmination of broken sensations and colours. It is the multitude of humdrum treasures found underfoot or the warmth which floods my mind when I am sat indoors hours after I have gone for a walk. It collides into interiors, dreams and conversations. My prints reflect this through the intimate mingling of bedrooms, dreams and figures alongside the plants, trees and animals evocative of East Anglia’s stunning countryside.”

Maddie has a diaristic and personal style, with a humorous use of jotted notes, glanced images, and everyday objects to capture the relatable internal world, the fleeting thoughts and feelings that go into a daily experience. Maddie is a conceptual artist living and working in Suffolk. In her own words she “makes things and makes things happen. She is research and project based, working across painting, installation, film, performance, text and drawing. Her work focuses on examining life, to highlight poetics and connections”.

Slop is a new curatorial project (formed in April 2020), working to promote underrepresented artists with a connection to the countryside through exhibitions, collaborations, and publications. We are a partnership between a philosopher and a visual artist, and with a DIY ethos we want to make inspiring, radical art available to all, no matter what your location, background or privilege, to challenge the elitism that permeates the art world. We believe in paying artists for their work, and breaking down barriers to viewing artwork. Thank you to our lovely funders at East Anglia Art Fund and Norfolk County Council’s Arts Project Fund for their support with this project.

Instagram: @slop_projects Facebook: @Slop.Projects Twitter: @SlopProjects


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