Creating the ‘average face of Wakefield’ as part of Home and Away project

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A group of artists from all over the world are living and working together in Wakefield as part of an Art House-supported project called Home and Away.

During their month-long residency, the artists will make new artworks which will be on display as part of the Wakefield Art Walk on July 29.

The international group consists of Chintan Upadhyay from Rajasthan, India who is famous there for his large colourful glass fibre sculptures of babies; Florian Tuercke from Nuremberg, 
Germany who works with video and sound; Lorena Espitia Torres from Bogota Columbia who works across many mediums and Achia Anzi, an Israeli-born installation artist who lives and works in Delhi, India.

Along with Smith, whose own practice involves large-scale installations using discarded objects, they will be working with sculptor Emily Simpson from Manchester, Rebecca Hoy a designer and maker from Leeds and sculptor Ann Balmforth from Hemsworth.

Smith said: “The format of the residency is to work in public spaces and also to use and work in empty buildings.

“The idea was mooted and discussed over the course of 18 months before we put our application in to the Arts Council. It became real once we got the funding and we selected the artists to work with us.

“Bringing people together and creating a fusion within a short period of time will spark ideas and collaborations might develop.

“There’s a sense of spontaneity in how people work – there’s no rigid format or implied rules. It’s a case of coming and responding and discussing.

“The group have lots of different styles and ways of expressing themselves.

“We are working with the public, going out into the streets and talking to people and asking for things.

“For example Chintan wants to make a sculpture using second-hand woollen jumpers sewn together and made into one big sculpture.

“We are going around to knitting groups and shops and asking them if they’d like to come and help sew then together and we’re also requesting people to hand in second -hand garments.

“In a sense that will become a little community in itself. They will become empowered by getting involved in something.

“Every time we reach out to ask someone about something they are really interested in doing then we make contact and we’ll invite them to come on the 29th – we’re encouraging new audiences to come and see the artworks.”

Florian has already been out and about in Wakefield with his video camera. He is asking 50 individuals to sit completely still for 90 seconds in front of a video camera. The resulting portraits will be overlaid to create “The Average Face of Wakefield”

Ann Balmforth’s hatred of fly-tipping is the inspiration behind her contribution to the project.

She says: “There’s been a massive increase in fly-tipping in the past year so my plan is to make the areas that have been tipped 
on look better. I will make the rubbish into sculpture to disguise it and then photograph it before and after.

“The rubbish is generally tipped in places where people won’t be caught and on sunny days, there’s a real contrast between the colours of the sky and the greens of the trees and grass and the burgundy cushions from a sofa, two fridges with the door open and blue bags of rubbish – in some ways it kind of looks good like it is.”

The fruition of the Home & Away project will be a one-night exhibition held in Fell House on July 29 to coincide with the Wakefield Art Walk.