The shadow of the valley
August 8, 2011
South Square Gallery becomes home and studio for Leeds-based artist Alfie Strong, camping out for a month in the gallery’s first ever artist’s residency
Although it is still early on in the four week residency, the space has already been transformed as Strong settles into his new hermit lifestyle. There’s a sense of the space being dressed and prepared as if for some kind of religious rite or ceremony. A sun diagram and lines on the wall depict shadows which transform the shape of his tent into a mountain, while elsewhere around the space various mysterious objects have been placed or concealed.
‘I’m initiating my work into the space and almost ritualistically defending myself against the unfamiliar. I’ve been taking lots of unnecessary measures in order to feel safe and comfortable here. It’s superstitious and over cautious at the moment as a defence against the unknown.’
The building itself, once a square block of bricklayers cottages, set on the side of a rural valley in Thornton just outside Bradford, gives off a real sense of history which is perhaps very unexpected for a contemporary art space. Alfie Strong is an artist whose work is deeply rooted in the past and our connection to it. He seems to be the perfect selection for the gallery’s first artist resident.
The Shadow of the Valley continues until Thursday 25th August, with a closing event from 7 – 9 pm celebrating the residency and featuring an exhibition of Strong’s work.
by Elizabeth Holdsworth. Photographs by Rowan Farrell.