Jacob Cartwright & Nick Jordan at Experience Barnsley Museum

Strata was part of the A&H Meeting Point programme, commissioned by Experience Barnsley Museum and Discovery Centre, and exhibited from 31 January - 3 March 2018.

The brief

Looking for an artist who would be:

  • Willing to be bold and adventurous in developing audiences
  • Use the collection and archive to explore the current social and political climate in Barnsley
  • Interested in art connecting with the council chamber and democracy
  • To engage the community in the collection, and help shape a shared cultural identity
  • Catch the imagination of the museum’s audience
  • Tell a new story to visitors
  • To work independently with the organisation’s full support.

View the project

Overview

A summary of Jacob Cartwright & Nick Jordan’s proposal:

  • Proposed a series of artworks that wove the social, cultural, political and industrial
  • The importance of creating work that spoke to, and created a dialogue with the local community
  • Artist Research would consider ‘local’ in a wider context and sought out broader connections
  • The Artists worked with archive material as a starting point but were open to where research then took them.

The artwork

  • The artists envisaged making a film that was both documentary style and poetic
  • Would link the local to the foreign as a way of asking questions about cultural heritage and identity
  • The work would have three themes and each would be projected throughout the building
  • A site specific installation
  • The artists also made artwork made out of coal waste material.

Strata: Structures, Transformation, Solidarity was an exhibition that explored themes relating to the region’s social, cultural, industrial and natural histories, and forged connections with international locations on the European Route of Industrial Heritage. A centrepiece of the exhibition was the two-screen 40-minute video installation, which combined original cinematography with an atmospheric soundtrack score by Lord Mongo, voices from the community, archive film and audio, forming an immersive and poetic picture of collective memory, shared experience and international solidarity.

Alongside the film, the artists exhibited new drawings made from coal dust, found objects, 3D animation, and banners that were on loan from the National Union of Mineworkers and Women Against Pit Closures.

See more on Nick Jordan’s website.

Film courtesy of Nick Jordan

Outcome

  • Trust your decision – go with the unexpected if it is exciting
  • Keep senior management and key decision-makers informed
  • Share the artists’ proposal and the artist’s CV, or examples of other work
  • Drip feed information throughout the life of the project
  • Make sure exhibition dates don’t clash with key public events
  • Develop a project champion or advocate
  • Ask for support.

In the recent publication, Arts&Heritage: A Celebration of the First 10 Years, Emma Anderson reflected on the impacts of the Strata commission:

“The commission changed the way Cartwright and Jordan approached the use of historical material and collections, as they started to look at their own film footage and audio material as an archive in itself. They started to recognise the equivalence between all the material they were using, whether found or original footage – as a layered and dense resource to draw upon. This has led to the development of a loose approach in developing work without pre-set plans or agendas; responding to what they find or where enquiries lead, often by chance encounters or conversations with people.

At a late stage, the presentation of the commission became highly problematic due to last minute Council interventions that resulted in the show running for a much shorter duration, without publicity and promotion. Despite its limited run at the Museum, the exhibition was well-attended, visitors responded very positively, and the people interviewed for the film expressed how proud they were to be part of it. Overall Cartwright and Jordan found it a bruising experience but one that connected them to a diverse range of activists and grass-roots organisations, and has led to further opportunities that continue to explore how landscape, people and heritage come together to create unique qualities of place.” – Emma Anderson, 2021

About the Artists

Jacob Cartwright and Nick Jordan are artists based in Manchester. Collaborating since 2004, their work has been shown widely at international exhibitions and film festivals, including recently at Innsbruck International Biennale (Austria); National Maritime Museum (London); Whitstable Biennale (UK); FIDMarseille (France); 100 Years of DADA, ICA, (London); Musée du Quai Branly (Paris); Garage Center for Contemporary Culture (Moscow); Edinburgh International Film Festival (UK); Documenta Madrid (Spain); The New York Film Festival (USA); Rencontres Internationales (Berlin); Kassel Dokfest (Germany).

Artist residencies and commissions include Headlands Center for the Arts (San Francisco, USA); Book Works (UK); The National Trust (UK); Art Gene (UK); The Manchester Museum (UK).

Read more about Strata

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