Open West 2014 Shows Ambitious Curatorial Vision In Cheltenham

The Art world is saturated with ” Art competitions” offering opportunities for artists of all levels to exhibit their work.  Many of these events end up mediocre at best, some bore the audience to sleep… only a  few do succeed in its ambitious curatorial vision.

The Open West 2014 is certainly one of the few successful ones: Set at the Wilson Museum in Cheltenham, Its ultra modern  structure and interior  manages to  harbour both old world art with a young ‘kicking’ contemporary works. The Curators: Sarah Goodwin and Lyn Cluer Coleman, joined by guest judges Vrigile Ittah and Anita Taylor have managed to curate a strong exhibition selecting 44 artists with a wide range of eclectic artworks and narratives.

On the entering the ground floor – An installation by Stella Whalley presents an architectural response to Wilson’s minimalist interior, made with strings of Black Viscous Yarn. This Ultra contemporary installation is set as a back drop to  Rodin’s “Kiss” sculpture ( Yes, one of the real ones) and thus offers a spectacular visual and conceptual perspective of art’s past and future.

On the top floor Helen Sturgess’s installation: “Wrestling with Angel” is a large white paper simply hung by fishing wire, yet its striking movement, its enormity and the soft light reflecting its gentle cresses and twists pays homage to old masters paintings of angels taking it to a new level. Its a poetic piece, which again bridges the centuries for a contemporary representation of traditional art.
Sturgess’s installation  (who also won The University of Gloucestershire  Award)   is presented across from Michal Cole’s “Clamare” (Scream) tapestry, an interpenetration of another master piece : Munch’s “Scream.” The Tapestry , which is woven at the famous Flanders Tapestries in Belgium  depicts Adam and Eve with skull heads amidst a traditional row of terraced houses, while a map of the UK made out of raw meat hovers above them. This work deals with the Human Condition, utilising strong contrasting colours. The work  heaves with violent tensions and a striking visual impact which stands as a contrast to the tenderness of “Wrestling with Angels”.  

Other notable works includes: Glynn Griffiths ” Thought Constructed” a wooden stripes sphere held by G clamps, and Tom Ormon’d ( Curators Choice Award) “Inside Out” painting.

The Open West 14, is an exhibition well worth the trip to Cheltenham. While set at the fantastic Wilson Museum It offers a bold vision by  it’s curators and a fresh and current insight into contemporary art practice.

Exhibition 3 May- 1st June 2014 Sunday 11 May Artist talk 10.45am-5pm Exhibition open daily 9.30am-5.15pm The Wilson, Clarence  Street, Cheltenham GL50 3JT – Free Entry

Words/Photo © Artlyst 2014

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