To celebrate the 20th anniversary of their practice at Green Close, artists Sue and Pete Flowers recently launched a new exhibition ‘Bringing It All Back Home’ at The Storey Gallery in Lancaster, exploring the range and impact of their innovative work over the past 20 years.
The exhibition showed new and existing works by contemporary artists who have previously worked with Green Close, reflecting on the role of artists as creative leaders and consider the organisations ambitions for the future.
Artists exhibiting included Sue Flowers, Pete Flowers, Adam Gregory, Darren Andrews, Hugh Miller, Kate Eggleston-Wirtz, Stephen Raw & Carol Ann Duffy, Sumit Sarker and Tracey Eastham.
Below are biography’s of some of the artists exhibiting and considered thoughts on how their work and practice has been affected by working with Green Close.
I am a Director and co founder of Green Close, as well as being a practicing artist. Arts education and community engagement are central to my creative practice; I have been lead engagement artist on award–winning projects such as The Padiham Greenway Project and Channel 4’s Big Art Project in Burnley. I thrive upon working creatively within collaborative situations and have undertaken international residencies and public art commissions for Parc Du Pilat, France, Aalborg Triennale, Denmark, and Toluca University, Mexico.
Green Close for me, always about making a dream become a reality.
I grew up in the village of Melling, and moved to London to study art, then, following a lengthy period of travel in South America, I returned totally committed to bringing an awareness of contemporary art and diverse cultural experiences to my own community. I co-founded Green Close with Pete originally as artist studios, but our love of creative education combined with the needs of rural communities, has taken us on an incredible journey.
I feel proud to have run our not-for-profit organisation for twenty years; it has taken a lot of effort and a total commitment. I feel strangely part of a family continuum – my great grandfather ran the village blacksmith’s, my grandfather and father developed this into an agricultural machinery business, part of which we developed into our studios, so now we are here making unusual things happen. Its no coincidence that our next educational project is called ‘The Power of Possibilities’ or that we will be bringing the first Valencian Falla sculpture to the UK this year. Art is about having great ideas, being an artist is about making them happen, and Green Close has enabled this in so many ways.
Pete is a Director and Co-Founder of Green Close, as well as a practicing artist. His work has been exhibited in major national and international galleries including the Royal Academy; Hayward; Whitechapel; Bankside; Smiths Gallery & the Camden Arts Centre, Oxo Wharf London, Oxford Gallery, in Oxford; Cartwright Hall, Bradford; The Summerville Gallery, New York; Minoa University, Egypt and the Leopolda Flores Gallery, Tolluca University in Mexico.
Pete’s thoughts on being a Director and Co-Founder of Green Close are as follows: “Over the last 20 years, Green Close has had a profound effect on my work. It has enabled me to share ideas and work alongside artists from all over the world. The studio is an amazing space to work in; sometimes mad busy and crazy, but most of the time tranquil and calm. It is a place where art is created, sometimes alone or alongside fellow artists, with visitors, schools and community groups. It feels as though all this creativity has seeped itself into the very stones of the building.”
Adam York Gregory & Gillian Jane Lees
Gillian Jane Lees is the co-artistic director of Proto-type Theater (www.proto-type.org) and a freelance performer and collaborator. Adam York Gregory www.thesecretsurface.co.uk) is a scientist, visual artist, and film maker. Their practice seeks to explore the notion of ‘the imagined ideal’ through performance, experimentation, documentation and observation.
Adam tends towards the scientific and the visual – extracting data and creating methods and visual documentation. Gillian, examines the piece as a subjective performer, with reference to the physical nature of perfection and control.
As Adam points out, Green Close have been hugely supportive of him as a freelance artist: “Since first meeting them in 2012, shortly after graduating, Green Close, Sue and Pete, have been collaborators, employers, facilitators and most importantly friends. I don’t think I would have survived my first few years as a self-employed artist without their help, and I wouldn’t have enjoyed it half so much either.”
Darren Andrews is a Freelance Photographer & Film Maker. His work has been printed in magazines and newspapers around the world, and he has had many solo exhibitions throughout the country.
Presented in this exhibition are a series of photograms which are photographs created in the darkroom without the use of a camera. His books include ‘Pleasureland’, ‘Beloved’ and ‘Dark Corners of the Land’. Some of Darren’s photographs are included in the Royal Photographic Society Archive.
Darren has worked with Green Close for a number of years: “I first started working with Green Close in 2012 when I was given the job of documenting their Lancashire Witches project. I always enjoy working with them, they’ve been very supportive to me over the years. As well as being great artists they support Manchester United and on occasion provide you with the odd glass of excellent homemade damson gin.”
Hugh was born in Harrogate. After studying at Chelsea College of Art & Design with tutors Chris Ofeli & Nicholas May. Hugh graduated in 1997 and worked for several years at Green Close Studios before returning home to Yorkshire, where he currently works. Hugh regularly exhibits nationally and recently showed at Tennants Auctioneers with a solo show ‘Pushing Paint’ and previously at The Truman Brewery, Brick Lane with the series; ‘The Glasshouse Mill Project’ (2011).
Hugh shared his thoughts on working with Green Close: “Green Close Studios is a great place to paint. I had the mezzanine floor for several years and enjoyed the space immensely. Central heating, toilets, broadband and free parking facilitated a professional environment to work, and though in the middle of the beautiful Lune Valley with panoramic views, it is only 15 minutes from the M6 and Lancaster train station, so was extremely accessible. I would definitely recommend hiring a space to work there and the managers, artists Sue & Pete Flowers, who’s genuine belief that art can help improve people’s lives spiritually and aesthetically, adds a unique warmness to the working atmosphere.”
Kate Eggleston-Wirtz is an American multidisciplinary visual artist and published poet who has lived in the north west of England for nearly 20 years. She has a BFA in Illustration (Northern Illinois University 1984), an MA in Visual Design as Creative Practice (Blackpool and the Fylde College, an affiliate to Lancaster University 2009) and an MA in Learning and Visitor Studies in Museums and Galleries (University of Leicester 2015). The artist has exhibited worldwide and won awards in the 7th and 8th Annual 3-Dimensional Art Directors and Illustrators Awards Show in New York City (1995, 1996) as well as the Society for Art of the Imagination’s Water exhibition in London (2004).
“Green Close has given me the opportunity to develop my personal work together with a community. Green Close projects have never been absolutely prescriptive allowing for creative freedom, making for interesting rewarding experiences, both personal and professional. Through Green Close innovative projects I have been able to develop confidence working with schools, creating artwork as learning resources and my photography skills in relationship to emotions about a place. This organisation has raised my awareness in how creativity on a local level connects globally releasing good energy into the world that works towards positive social change with sensitivity to the environment.”
Stephen has been working as a textual artists for over 30 years. He went to Art Schools in Wimbledon, Bromley and Manchester. He has been based in South Manchester since he moved there, apart from a two-year stint of teaching at the National Arts School in Papua New Guinea. He has exhibited throughout Europe and the US. Of late his collaborations with the Poet Laureate have been of interest as well as his other work for the Royal Ballet, Royal Mint and Manchester Cathedral. In 2013 a major show of his exploration of the language Benjamin Britten chose for his ‘War Requiem’ was exhibited in London. It will be mounted in Coventry Cathedral in 2018.
Stephen said: “I worked with Green Close on their wonderfully curated Witches 400 project. An initial visit with other artists was the highlight as we learnt about the context of the whole programme from hawk conservation through to inspiring kids to be part of it all. When it came to my work – poetry way markers – Green Close made the piece possible. In the event, it was 10 pieces of cast iron positioned over a 51 mile stretch – a task which would have defeated many other facilitators. The watercolour I produced for Witches 400 has had a direct influence on ‘No Man’s Land’ having an emphasis on the edge as much as the centre.”
Sumit Sarkar is a visual artist based between Manchester and London UK, whose artwork takes the form of digital and analogue paintings and sculpture. The content of his work ranges from the fantastical characters of Sumit’s KrikSix world, to his modern interpretation of the Hindu gods, Ananta, through to his sculptural graffiti work, Kerst. Sumit also works as an AV director, animator, illustrator and workshop leader, and is involved in various live art events around the UK, from aerosol art and drawing battles to live digital painting and sculpture.
”Green Close commissioned my Kerst work on a residency which saw me explore environmental sculptural graffiti for the first time, as well as my first piece working with metal (a car). The realisation of this project was a pivotal point in my artistic career, leading directly to other commissions and opportunities. I have since worked and exhibited with Green Close and its pool of artists.”
Born in Preston, 1983 I graduated from Wimbledon School of Art, London in 2006 with a distinction for my Masters degree from which I was also given an Axis ‘MAStars’ Award. Following this, I was selected for the ‘Future 50’ exhibition at Project Space Leeds, nominated for Arts and Business’ ‘Vision’ for the Northwest, selected for the Exeter Contemporary Open, was awarded a solo show at Airspace Gallery, Stoke on Trent, exhibited with The Castlefield gallery at ‘Manchester Contemporary 2009’ (and then with Mermaid and Monster in 2011) and have exhibited throughout the country and in Europe including at D21 Gallery, Leipzig, Harris Museum, Preston, Transistion Gallery, London and the Talbot Rice Gallery in Edinburgh.
I have performed ‘live collages’ for Arts and Business North West and Light Night Leeds and have collaborated with writers and artists to produce ‘The Liverpool Art Journal’. I recently completed a large commission for The Cooperative Group for their Head Office which was revealed by HM the Queen and I was shortlisted for the Greater Manchester Arts Prize in 2016.
I currently have a studio at Rogue Artists Studios in Manchester and am a Critical Studies lecturer at Blackpool and the Fylde College.