Art Review: Plymouth Art Weekender

Plymouth Art Weekender was an ambitious three day event taking place across the city on 25/26/27th September 2015, celebrating Plymouth, its people and the visual arts, and promoting the city as an exciting contemporary art destination.  

During this year’s Indian summer, artists, curators and organisations pulled together to present Plymouth Art Weekender. Without a lot of time to spend exploring all the events (over 80 of them), I had to pick and choose what to go to. Armed with the map, I went to explore….

My first event was Video Social Club, held appropriately at Plymouth Social Club. Video Social Club was made up of artists’ submitting their video work to be selected and screened. The event was packed, and there was the promise of dancing later in the evening, supplied by sound artist and DJ for the night Neil Rose and the visuals supplied by Sion Lewin. The selected videos ran continuously in the main space on a large screen, they were fun and engaging to watch. The social aspect of the event worked really well, helped by a very reasonably priced bar and as the evening wore on, and once we’d had a healthy dose of lubrication, what was left of the crowd headed downstairs and danced the rest of the night away. An ideal start to the weekend!

Next event for me was Saturday lunch time, where we were treated to a public performance by artist Serena Korada, Miss Lido, Show us Your Guns. Located on the Hoe, a crowd gathered in the baking sun with the backdrop of the Plymouth Sound. There were four drummers and drum kits and five ladies dressed as alien beauty queens, painted in vivid bright colours and sporting multi-breasted costumes. This for me was one of the highlights of the weekend. The drummers set up a powerful rhythm, with some dynamic and exciting dancing, with the dancers interacting with large egg like shapes. The metaphors were simple enough, but vividly told in colour and movement, with an amazing and dramatic location, that finished with the dancers smashing the ceramic eggs to the ground, which drew gasps from the enthusiastic crowd.

Next stop was Pipe Studios in the Barbican, to see To Anybody and to Everybody, with artists Ryan Curtis, Norman Buchan, Liam Symes and Steven Paige. The work, mainly sculpture and painting was confident, graphic and very contemporary. It was great to see the video piece The Ties That Bind… by Steven Paige a second time, previously shown at Exeter Phoenix. The voice of the performers in the video gently inhabited the space and added some personality to what could appear to be a fairly cool show, with the exception of Symes evocative painting of two boys playing in a paddling pool and the aforementioned video work. A great show regardless.

Next stop was St. Saviours, a remarkable space. The venue, home to artist Robert Lenkiewicz’s library, played host to various performances and presentations. It was packed with an appreciative crowd but the space seemed overwhelmed, and there could have been some more seating for those who wanted to stay for the duration. What I did manage to see was experimental and enjoyable – a historic clip from Marcy Saude’s performance lecture of Simon and Garfunkel singing was great to see.

Saturday came to close with music at KARST, as part of the evening opening of the exhibition About a Feeling… This made up for what was an unusually lacklustre show for KARST, although with some good individuals’ work. A few people (including myself), danced along to the hypnotic tunes that one of the artists in the show played, helped along by the strong and generous cocktails courtesy of the gallery. So again fun was had!

Sunday was a very late start. I did not make any of the other events although I did manage to come along to the closing event at the Dolphin, where a lot of the artists, curators, and organizers met to have a final drink in one of Plymouth’s very real and enjoyable pubs. Stories of the weekend where swapped, some opinions offered while smart phones documented. An appropriate way to bring the weekender revelry to a close. More time could have meant I might have seen more, but I was happy with what I saw and look forward to it happening again!

Warren Dickson


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