Review: Donx Dialogues, 4 August 2022

Donx Dialogues, created in association with Yorkshire Wildlife Trust as a precursor to ArtBomb 22, welcomed the artist and academic Meena Vari to talk about her Future of Transport project in Bangalore. Meena talked about the pressures on Bangalore as a fast growing Indian city and the opportunities of working in India’s equivalent to Silicon Valley. Her students are given the freedom to just think about and imagine the future as they see it. Unlike Meena and her fellow academics the students are unfettered and allow their imaginations to create futures uninhibited by fear of the end of the world.

Meena Vari

Alongside Meena, Yu-Chen Wang, a British Taiwanese artist exploring cultural identity and Dr. Antony Hall a Manchester based artist currently investigating moss in his cycle drawn laboratory spoke about their inspiration for their projects as part of ArtBomb 22: Alternative Ecologies.

Yu-Chen Wang

Both artists are exploring the strain felt by the landscape and looking to record and describe the results of their enquiries. Wang is launching a new video artwork, Full Circle within the festival, which explores Doncaster’s mining connections.

Chaired by curator and academic Rob la Frenais, Donx Dialogues focused on the concerns that ordinary people might have for stark changes in the landscape and how it was important to discuss these at every opportunity.

Donx Dialogues was co-presented by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and their chief executive, Mike Winstanley set the scene for the discussion by talking about the creation of Potteric Carr, itself made from the mined landscape.

Donx Dialogues was the perfect precursor to ArtBomb 22 managing to set the context for discussion both globally and locally and managing to weave the art into the science and vice versa.

Antony Hall, Meena Vari and Yu-Chen Wang

ArtBomb 22: Alternative Ecologies, Doncaster 11-14 August

Escaping Gravity, DocFest 2022, Sheffield

In the newly created Accesses as Space on Sheffield’s Fargate (opposite Marks & Spencer) I am just in time to catch the 3pm screening of a film commissioned by Bedford Creative Arts to celebrate the links with one of the most audacious projects of the early twentieth century – the R101 Airship.

Sat in front of me a group of DocFest visitors are sunk in low deckchairs as this immersive film begins to weave its magic. Through computer generated imagery we are witnessing the future as it unpacks and celebrates the airship wondering how an idea so far ahead of its time could be allowed to die. If anytime was good to revive the airship project it is now and cannily this collaboration begins to suggest what it meant, especially to the men and women who were involved in it. Archive footage is neatly employed to demonstrate the hopes that lay at the heart of the R101’s construction.

Back in the future the boomeranged voice narrates a possibility illustrated by the human moment that connects our past present and future; an almost sinister focus on isolation.

I want to try and communicate the sheer exhilaration I felt watching this film unfold itself across 36 minutes. I don’t want to spoil it for you – all I can say is that it lives up to its billing as an immersive artwork exploring themes of flight and fantasy.

Escaping Gravity is a collaboration between artists: Roland Denning; Roger Illingworth; Dave Lynch; Rob Strachan; Mike Stubbs and Sam Wiehl.

Escaping Gravity was commissioned by Bedford Creative Arts and The Higgins Art Gallery and the Museum of Bedford with support from Arts Council England, National Lottery Heritage Fund, The Airship Heritage Trust and The Harpur Trust.

Escaping Gravity: live still from the 3pm performance on 26 July 2022