Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Bringing the Past to Life

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Bringing the Past to Life

Article excerpt

Byline: By Tamzin Lewis

A collection of work by seven artists takes its inspiration from the personal histories of both family and foreigners, as Tamzin Lewis discovers.

Out with the new and in with the old. Fading archives, artefacts and albums are the source material for the When I Lived in Modern Times exhibition at Sunderland's Northern Gallery of Contemporary Art (NGCA).

The exhibition credits Hal Foster, professor of art at Princeton University, as recognising a revival of the use of archive material in contemporary art.

In 2004, he wrote: "An archival impulse with a distinctive character of its own is again pervasive ( enough so to be considered a tendency in its own right, and that much alone is welcome."

The archival impulse is certainly being welcomed by the NGCA, which is exhibiting seven artists who all work from archival material, primarily photographic. The artists examine both collective history and personal memory.

Hideko Inoue's paintings are based on the photographic albums featuring her Japanese grandfather as a young man. Her grandfather died when she was nine, and her source material documents people and places she has never known.

Hideko, 30, who was born in Japan but is now living in Glasgow, says: "I don't have many memories of my grandfather. He was very traditional and I remember he was quite angry and scary. I have found out what kind of person he was from his photographs and have grown to know him more."

She adds: "During my MA at the Glasgow School of Art I decided to use the photos as part of my work."

The original black and white photographs are small, 3cm by 5cm, and date from the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Hideko uses these, and also photographs of her mother, as inspiration for her paintings; inventing a past as much as transcribing real events.

She says: "In some of the pictures, my mother is about the same age as me, so these are particularly interesting, imagining what she was like at my age."

Alice J Anderson's video Les Deux Voyageuses combines fact with fiction. Working from a second-hand photo album which recorded an unusual holiday taken by two women in their 40s, across Europe in 1939. …

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