‘Dialogue’- curated by Yoke (Eve Warren and Nathan Bolton).
Words by Emma Chaplin
The exhibition space for ‘Dialogue’ is nestled in one of the Corn Exchange’s sadly otherwise redundant alcoves. The project, curated entirely by final year students Eve Warren and Nathan Bell of Leeds College of Art, glows from within. The space crammed with coloured screen prints, offers an Aladdin’s cave-like allure. The opening night of the exhibition was buzzing with- presumably- art students but the accessible placement of ‘Dialogue’ within the historical space will ensure a healthy amount of foot traffic, encouraging public exposure and inclusivity to the world of design. The duo’s ethos is sophisticated and well executed, playing on their own experiences of the design world in a 21st century context.
The work itself is a unique array of layered screen prints, produced entirely by Warren and Bolton’s own fair hands, super imposing text pieces and images onto A3 or A5 posters. The meshing of separate elements from two or more designers who may never have met, construct a ‘blind collaboration’ allowing for the actual work to dictate the way it is then grouped by Warren and Bolton. The designs featured are by students, local Leeds creative groups and international designers alike, placing work which would otherwise perhaps be more insular, within a much wider creative dialogue. The vibrant pieces both clash and complement, swathed in a lush and diverse palette of very ‘now’ neons and softer hues and are really a culmination of a much wider project. Eve talks about the struggle to secure internships because of the frustrating breakdown of communication within the industry. Here Dialogue expresses the pair’s own ideas of an antidote to this, the whole process reflecting the constant and consistent process of communication between Creatives, eventually allowing two individual works to channel this message into a visual piece. The special emphasis on physical contact is also literalised in the tangible process of screen printing, an art slightly overshadowed of late by the precedence of digitalisation. I interview the pair to understand the ethos behind their project and the hopes they have for the exhibition.
EC: So you said that the exhibition is part of one of your third year projects (at Leeds College of Art where both are in their final year) but where did the actual idea for ‘Dialogue’ spark from?
EW: Every year, third years are told to write a list of briefs and I guess me and Nathan are quite ambitious people and we really like print as well, the course really encourages you to do a lot of these processes and kind of experiment a little. Initially in the summer I was trying to secure internships but it was really difficult because no one would email you back. So we came up with this concept of dialogue, contacting people, getting them to collaborate so it would hopefully open up some more opportunities.
EC: So if you want something doing, do it yourself? So what does ‘Dialogue’ mean here, what was it you wanted to achieve?
NB: The idea kind of stemmed from us wanting to create a space where people could come down and spend time. Because it’s not just all student work; there’s work from other studios, designers throughout Leeds and the local area. So we wanted to create a space where people could come and look at the work, and it’s just an environment where people can talk to each other and be around like minded people. It’s a place talk about stuff, having the print there helps to spark that conversation really.
EC: So, in a way the print is another medium of this wider interaction?
EW: It’s quite clever really because first we contacted people so there was a dialogue there, the printing process between two people, that was another form and then the event encourages dialogue so the whole thing is about communication.
NB: Yeah, even the way that we send stuff out, everything was hand written and it was all focused around the idea of dialogue and actually speaking to people.
EC: So do you think that it’s a case of ‘not what you know but who you know’?
NB: Yeah, the idea what really that it’s better to see someone face to face and speak to them than just being hidden behind words in an email. Even with the prints, it’s a manual thing; all the prints in the exhibition were done by me and Eve in two weeks. It’s the fact that they weren’t just send from a computer to a printer, we’ve really created that work.
EC: A lot of tender love and care there. How much of the idea stemmed from your studies at LCA, would you say they influenced your work or was it quite independent?
EW: Well third year, it’s very much down to you what you want to do. In the second year there was a modules on print processes which also gave you the option to learn about web design, so two separate mediums meshed together. I guess I wanted to get my hands dirty rather than stare at a computer screen all day. I have got digital projects on the go but this gives us a bit of a break from that.
NB: But since we started, the tutors have always been behind it, encouraging us.
EW: And we’ve had funding from the college as well.
EC: So are you also planning to sell the works too?
EW: It’s quite up in the air about how the prints will be sold…
NB: But we are looking at selling them once the exhibition has finished running, we’re just still figuring out the best way to do that.
EC: So has this project sparked something or is it more of a onetime pop-up kind of experience?
EW: We definitely do want to do something in the future like we have had offers for collaboration with other people but it’s very much up in the air. I think it’s quite exciting to not know what’s going to happen next.
NB: It’s something that we’ve both said we want to carry on doing.
EW: We’ve just got to think about the situation regarding facilities because at the minute, at uni we have these resources at our finger tips so when you graduate it you realise how much you take advantage of that.
EC: So will you stay around Leeds? How has the city shaped your experiences as designers?
EW: Since first year so much has changed, even in the last 18 months with places like Belgrave (Music Hall and Canteen) popping up…
NB: There’s been a lot more arts and culture introduced and I think just the idea of design in Leeds is becoming a lot bigger; there’s a lot more things happening around here. Even quirky little spaces like in the Corn Exchange, I don’t think a lot of people know about it and it needs to be seen that you can do it, hopefully we’re proving what can be done in such a small space.
EW: And the Corn Exchange is so beautiful.
NB: I live quite locally and I knew it a long time ago when it was full of Goth culture so it’s so much better than what it used to be before. It needs to take advantage of the arts.
EW: It’s just a shame that a lot of the units are empty so I think we’ve taken advantage of. Though recently there’s been a lot more pop up events, that culture has started to take off and it doesn’t run the same risk of losing money either, people can just do what they love.
EC: Yeah, before it gets stale. So is there anywhere in Leeds you’d really like to promote?
NB: For arts definitely the Leeds Print Festival, it’s on every January and it’s in its third year now. It’s getting bigger and bigger each year.
EW: Yorkshire Sculpture Park as well, that’s always worth checking out.
EC: Thanks very much guys, good luck with the project!
The pair communicate an acute understanding of the prevalence of pop-up culture in the contemporary arts scene, experiencing its creative potential first hand; it’s clear that they have a strong idea of what this can mean for both developing designers and the more established community as a whole. Their event at the Corn Exchange is another encouraging example of the burgeoning creative explosion in the city, paving the way for some very positive things.
Filed under: Art & Photography