An alumna’s guide to Nottingham’s arts scene

My name is Laura-Jade Klée and in 2011 I graduated with a degree in Art History at University of Nottingham and entered a new life of working full-time within the art world in Nottingham.

Whilst at university, I had spent some time assisting at various galleries and I had discovered the fantastic young arts scene in Nottingham. Many recent graduate artists stay in Nottingham after graduation and initiate exciting projects or start galleries and collectives- I had decided that I wanted to be one of them. I currently work within two galleries whilst also doing arts writing and curating site-specific artworks.

Photo credits: Laura-Jade Klee

I am part of an art collaboration called Sidelong and together we explore the idea of the curated walk and re-interpret the landscape in unusual ways. We are inspired by psychogeography and fictionalized histories, and our work draws attention to intriguing features of the cityscape that are often overlooked. So far we have developed two works Dream Walking (November 2011) and A Walk Through the Underworld (launching September 2013) which are linked by their concern with Nottingham’s landscape and identity, although the themes and aesthetics are very different!

To backtrack, I met Jo Dacombe when I was delivering family activities at Nottingham Contemporary and we started discussing our interests. Jo is an artist whose practice is based around art walks, map making, and working with communities. At this time I was working on my dissertation about Land Art and how it is made accessible to the public through institutions. An interesting discussion arose about curating the landscape and we decided to work together to practically explore these ideas further. We set out to do three walks: one where the viewer follows a trail alone, another which is a group led walk, and finally an exhibition that alludes to the experience of walking.

Dream WalkingOur first walk Dream Walking was commissioned by Nottingham City Council as part of Light Night 2011. Jo and I had embarked on a dérive around the city, each pointing out interesting details that we had not noticed before and we then created a route through these spaces. We obtained permission to install site-specific images on buildings which drew attention to the quirky qualities we identified.  We cut the images from reflective vinyl which we hid in dark corners. When people attended the walk at night-time, the images would glow brightly under torch-light. We were based on a stall where we distributed torches and maps with cryptic clues. All images loosely shared the theme of flying, creating an other-worldly experience. Afterwards we published a book,which recounts our experience of the event and audience feedback.

Our second and more ambitious project is A Walk Through the Underworld, which launches this September. The idea formed through talking with people from Nottingham (generally old men in pubs), who would recall second-hand stories about Nottingham’s caves with great enthusiasm despite knowing very little about them (for example, “I knew somebody whose friend’s uncle walked all the way to Derby in a tunnel!”) Caves are mysterious spaces that excite people, and Nottingham has the most man-made caves in the UK which have served many uses historically. Our walk leads people through caves that are not usually publicly accessible and invites people to create myths and fictionalize history in order to explore the environment. Through presenting small sculptures mimicking relics and our group of “troglodytes” will tell stories to explain how these strange objects came to be in a cave. We are working with Nottingham based writer, Wayne Burrows, who is interested in merging fact and fiction, and he will perform readings in the caves and write for our publication. Walks take place 14, 21, 28 September and 5 October. If you are interested in attending, tickets are £5 for students and available from 1st August via New Art Exchange.

When I’m not working in caves, I’m also employed as marketing assistant at New Art Exchange and I am also temporarily working with the local community to develop how NAE engages with the public. I periodically work as a gallery assistant at Nottingham Contemporary. In the future I hope to continue with Sidelong and other site-specific projects and independent curation.

sidelong logo

sidelong logo

I hope to develop my practice internationally. When I can afford it I plan to return to university to study curating Contemporary Art, but in the meantime I shall keep pursuing my artistic interests and developing projects.

You can sign up to Sidelong updates here.

Follow me on twitter @LauraJadeKlee


One response to “An alumna’s guide to Nottingham’s arts scene

  1. Pingback: Recent Published Writings | Art Officially Sweetened·

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