39-41 Gregory Boulevard, Nottingham, United Kingdom This blog is for all New Art Exchange audience members to give their opinions and reviews, and to discuss exhibitions & events. Got something to add? Email:

02 September 2013

Coloured Toys- Rabindranath Tagore

Coloured Toys

When I bring to you coloured toys, my child,
I understand why there is such a play of colours on clouds, on water,
and why flowers are painted in tints
---when I give coloured toys to you, my child.

When I sing to make you dance
I truly now why there is music in leaves,
and why waves send their chorus of voices to the heart of the listening earth
---when I sing to make you dance.

When I bring sweet things to your greedy hands
I know why there is honey in the cup of the flowers
and why fruits are secretly filled with sweet juice
---when I bring sweet things to your greedy hands.

When I kiss your face to make you smile, my darling,
I surely understand what pleasure streams from the sky in morning light,
and what delight that is that is which the summer breeze brings to my body
---when I kiss you to make you smile.

- Rabindranath Tagore

12 August 2013


Come Back To Where You Are presents a new body of work in video and photography by Michelle Walsh. Her practice explores contemporary portraiture at the point where neuroscience intersects with Eastern philosophy. In the interview that follows, Michelle discusses this new project in detail.

NAE: For Come Back To Where You Are you have used Hyson Green as your focal point to work directly with a number of religious and secular groups such as the Soto Zen Buddhists, the Baha'i Community, Sai Dham practitioners, Friends of the Western Buddhist Order, Kadampa Buddhists and Yoga practitioners. Can you describe the starting point of the project?

MW: For this exhibition I have photographed people in Nottingham who are already involved in contemplative  practices, directly after they had been meditating, doing  yoga, singing devotional Bhajans or contemplating on spiritual themes such as love. Subjects were invited to do the opposite of what usually happens when being photographed: they stood with eyes closed in front of the camera and reconnected to the heart of the particular practice they had just engaged in. When they felt present and centred, able to maintain their attention focused inward rather than projected out to the camera, they would open their eyes and look at the lens. Once their eyes were opened I captured their portrait instantaneously.

NAE: This collection builds on the themes of previous work in photography and video. For example, your earlier series, Out of Nowhere, Nothing Answered (2011), explored contemporary portraiture at the point where neuroscience intersects with Eastern philosophy. In that project you used an EEG machine to read the brainwaves of sitters, with the camera only being triggered when the mind was at a pre-determined deeply relaxed state. Can you describe how this new project, Come Back To Where You Are, relates to and extends on this previous work?

MW: In the previous work, the experience of turning the attention inwards within the installation space was the key thing. With this current project, working with people who already have some experience of contemplative practices, the focus was on whether the subtle shift from keeping the attention strongly focused inwards rather than projected outwards to the camera could come across in a portrait.


30 July 2013

Mosakaa Recipe from NAE's Newspaper, The Exchange on Sunday

12 July 2013

Throughout June and July, The New Art Exchange has opened up its doors on Sunday to artists, commmunity groups, and families. There has been a range of events and activities for everyone to enjoy.
This Sunday, see 'Hatch: Scratched', a theatre performance taking place around NAE from 1pm- 5pm. From 6pm- 8pm Flamenco dancer, Fiona Malena will also be performing ( There is also a range of family activities, Henna Art, and a special menu of brunches, teas and sweets!

Fiona Malena performing at NAE this Sunday
Another highlight is NAE's very own free newspaper, available to read on Sunday's. To see what's been happening in past weeks, take a look at these issues below!
The Exchange on Sunday, Issue 1
Click here to

The Exchange on Sunday, Issue 2

Click here to


01 July 2013

Why the arts matter…

Last month, Issac from Rushcliffe Sixth Form joined NAE for a work experience placement. See his fantastic article about why the arts matter.
Why the arts matter…

The arts are important as they enlighten people on a variety of cultures, which living in an ever-growing diverse society is an increasingly valuable awareness to have as part of modern life. The arts educate people on different cultures, creating awareness of religions and beliefs, forming mutual respect and togetherness within communities. As well as this the arts allow peaceful methods of expression, whilst opening people’s awareness of domestic and foreign issues, of the past and present.

Not only do the arts create a cultural understanding in society they also help children learn and develop crucial skills. It has been proven that art helps children’s development as it stimulates their imagination and critical thinking. As well as giving them problem solving skills, the ability to make decisions, to complete and finish a task and an overall awareness of cultures. Most importantly the arts make learning for young children enjoyable, creating enthusiasm which will encourage the child to want to learn and explore more.

Through the use of events, exhibitions and workshops the arts educate, generate jobs, create awareness and expand people’s perspectives, whilst forming respectful open minded communities.
-Issac, Rushcliffe Sixth Form

17 June 2013

Skinder Hundal, the Creative Case for Diversity


"The Creative Case can lead to an infinite range of new thinking, new product, new stories, new aesthetics about how art is presented in a contemporary way that will then transform how art and culture is seen as part of our life."
Click here to see New Art Exchange's CEO, Skinder Hundal, discussing NAE’s contribution to The Creative Case for Diversity- a re-imagining of the Arts Council’s approach to diversity and equality. 

03 June 2013

Sundays at NAE!

Yesterday NAE launched the first of our Sunday openings happening throughout the summer period. I decided to join in with the fun and here's what I thought...
I started my day with smoked salmon and scrambled egg on toast from NAE's special brunch menu- delicious! There was also a range of newspapers were available to read, creating a perfect lazy Sunday morning vibe. In addition I read 'The Exchange on Sunday', a mini newspaper produced by NAE featuring real life stories, an interview with theatre practitioner Kyle Futers, and a recipe for Mutton with Tabouleh.


After breakfast there was a range of different activities happening. Outside the building visitors were decorating the pavement slabs with designs in chalk. I had a go at playing hopscotch, which was great fun as I had not done it since I was a kid at school and had actually forgotten the rules. There was also plasticine modelling, string and cup telephone making, and a postcard activity which I did. Following the instructions on the bright red 'magic' postbox at NAE, I wrote a postcard to myself in the future describing my day and asking a few questions about what my future holds.

There were lots of things happening throughout the day. Haaniah Khizer was in the café doing lavish henna art, and ABC dance school was showing visitors how to belly dance. In the afternoon I enjoyed a refreshing mint and elderflower favoured cup of tea and an Indian sweet. I had a fantastic day and there is something for everyone to enjoy. I will definitley join NAE for another jam-packed Sunday!
- Laura-Jade Klée


13 May 2013

Who is Stuart Hall?

Stuart Hall, image by Dawoud Bey.
On the 8th April, 2013, Margret Thatcher died. The world’s media mourned. World leaders made statements about how tragic the loss, how she had fought for liberty and freedom, how strong she was, how she was a symbol for women’s rights… But she was an extremely controversial figure. She was infamous to many, and signalled a change in politics, the like of which, say some, had not been seen since Winston Churchill.  On the streets of the United Kingdom parties were held, people shouting that at last, this woman who had caused so much suffering to so many had died… I have not seen one balanced report of this in the mainstream news.

Stuart Hall is one of the reasons I am here today. I needed to bring my children into work on more than one occasion last week…  Stuart Hall has long been a champion of women’s rights in the workplace and in education. His directorship of the Open University for many years has enabled not only women, but many people access to higher education. People that may not otherwise have been able to further their knowledge or careers. He is one of the people that has changed the way in which women and mothers are viewed in the workplace.

Without getting into the overt politics of these cases in point, I cannot think of a more fitting time to bring in John Akomfrah’s “The Unfinished Conversation”. This film is a poetic story of a man that lived through the time when Margret Thatcher was in power as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. He spoke of the empowerment of people, of the media and how it presented the world to its viewers. He spoke about its potential power and the interpretation of those images, televisual and documented, through mainstream and alternative media, through the arts and through political activism. He spoke about the voice of minority groups and individuals and how this could be made stronger. His work commented on institutional racism and reasons for social unrest. He spoke about the need for theory to be put into practice. I don’t have enough time to do justice to his life’s work now, but hope to give you a flavour of some of this work. He is now failing in health, so I feel it is the moment to celebrate and discuss his work, so that the unfinished conversation can go on and make new conversations that help us to change his world, our world…

Who is Stuart Hall?

A great deal of Stuart Hall’s thinking was inspired by his own life experience. Described as teacher, activist and writer, Stuart Hall’s thinking has been attributed (by himself as well as others in the field) and formulated largely from his own personal experiences as a child, growing up in Jamaica, being of dual heritage, and subsequently whilst he spent time at Oxford University.

A Rhodes scholar, Hall has never considered himself to be the authority on the subject of culture, and believes in the relativity of the discussion of culture as to the context in which it is being discussed. Hence possibly the title “The Unfinished Conversation”, hence the nature of the debate that is being put forward today vis a vis his thinking and practice. Indeed, he believes that theory is useless unless used and put into a practical and accessible debate and more importantly, political intervention. It  explains why he consistently wrote in collaboration with other theorists – A negotiation, a discussion…

Main terms that may be associated with Hall’s writing:

Dominant structures: Mainstream media – institutions (police, gvmt bodies etc) – ruling stratas of society

The concept of power to the people:  that people are highly media literate and are able if given the tools, to decode and recode the messages that they are being given by those dominant structures – that they can question them and discuss them, that they can change them

Coersive messaging: so that there are messages given to us that are designed to persuade us of their integrity. That this is done through subtle representation of certain groups of people and individuals so that they appear in the light that they wish… That it is suggested that these messages are logical and normal, that they are common sense… The black guy running down the street must be a criminal running from a crime scene.. this is made to seem logical to us as an audience based on crime “figures”. Of course these figures bear no relation to other factors that might affect a certain area, social/political group. They play on our fears, they layer and manipulate information so that we might believe what we are seeing as fact. This thinking is also linked to Hall’s commentary throughout the term of Margret Thatcher as prime minister.

Identity – who are we? Simply Asian/women/gay/straight/old/young… for example, or a mixture of these things…..

Common-sense knowledge is based on the theory that we are led to believe that certain things are accepted norms, for example that one uses a knife and fork to eat dinner, when this is simply a practise that we use in the culture in which we live. Or that it is normal, logical and common knowledge that we should uphold Christian values, when perhaps we actually have other beliefs that may contradict this.

 (“common-sense” – Gramsci – “A mode of conformist thinking, signalling consent to the dominant social order”)

Theory into Practice

Hall believes that theory should be an attempt to “bend language” in order to question common-sense knowledge, rather than a retreat into private languages ie putting theory to work.. to make it useful in our everyday lives, which gives it meaning.

Hall’s belief is in the power to change – that though dominant cultural structures aim to manipulate and coerce, that the reader/viewer of the media, has the ultimate power to decode messages and recode them. This in turn potentially allows significant cultural intervention on the part of the viewer/reader, making them producers of their own narratives. So, we see an image, based on our own experience we make sense of it, and that this then gives us the potential power to reinterpret and communicate our own understanding of that message within our own personal context.

Eg and simply put,  A pregnant artist sees a film about the death of a child. She reads it with her unborn child in mind, added to her own experiences as a child, and things she has observed throughout her own life to this point. So, she makes sense of the film. It may have touched her in a way so as to inspire her to tell someone about the story. That communication is her reading of the points that were important to her based on her own experience. If she is an artist, she may go through a process of communicating through her artform. This process is called recoding!

Hall also rejects the condescension of “ordinary folk” as manipulable. He believes that we are all highly literate in this way.. That we have the power to question the things we see and experience.

He uses the Idea also that audiences do not discover meaning, but generate meaning

All of this theory was extremely important in the world of popular culture, as:

1968: the first year of televised war… Vietnam, protest/violence and riots – the media communicating to our living rooms events going on all over the world. So for him to say that we could and should question these representations was really crucial. It was in this year that he took over as Director of the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies in Birmingham.

You might say that this is easier said than done. How do we know truth from lie, fact from fiction. Referring back to where we started, if unaware of the reign of Margret Thatcher, one might be forgiven for thinking that we are a united world, mourning the death of a great leader. Not the case! So, where does this leave Hall’s theory? He believes that there are certain representations in the media that lead us to believe that they are reality, not a representation of someone’s reality. In this way, theory, when put in a way that can be readily understood can give power to the individual: The mere thought that the dog on the screen can bark but it cannot bite, allows us to realise that what we see is an interpretation of a fact, not the fact itself. Once understood, we can begin to question that “reality” that we are being presented with in so many different contexts.

The idea that the media-maker “encodes” so presents a thought or idea in a particular way that may be designed to convince us, gives the media maker a great deal of power. For example, party politics is designed to convince us of the particular party’s thought and ideology. We are persuaded! But don’t we all question this from time to time? In the end, Hall has a point, we can “decode” or interpret the information we are being given how we wish. But we must be aware of the context from which it comes… that the conservative party might say one thing in a way as to make themselves look good, the labour party could say the same thing in a different way to make themselves look good!

So, the relationship is quite a delicate one, whereby the opportunity to be manipulated or coerced into a particular way of thinking is possible, but not evident.

It is very difficult to put Hall’s theory in a few minutes, his wealth of work is immense. I can only give you a few of the ideas that he has expressed throughout the years. I hope that this has helped, and that seeing the film will put his life and work into context.  In showing this work, New Art Exchange has offered the opportunity for artists and audiences alike to view and review some of these topics that remain relevant to us in our work and our lives. If you go not know his work, I invite you to engage, because I believe that his life has been a process of opening doors that have been closed to the vast majority. Hall has always argued against the institutionalisation of cultural theories. In making the film, John Akomfrah, once again, offers us the chance to put theory into practice, into galleries and back into the public arena, to make this subject matter a part of our lives and change the world henceforth.

- Sooree Pillay

08 April 2013

A Factory Through a New Lens

A Factory Through a New Lens

Format Exposure: Therblig, Wideyed

Think of factories, not just as cold churning machines, but as secluded containers of hidden mysteries. In Format Exposure: Therblig, photography collective Wideyed portray SCA Prudhoe Mill tissue factory as a stimulating space; a living organism that breeds the products we rely upon. The exhibition plays homage to motion pioneers Frank and Lillith Gilbreth, whose ideas about worker’s conditions and innovative use of photography has revolutionised factory practice over the past 100 years. Through enticing photography, tactile installations, and atmospheric sounds, Wideyed photographers, Richard Glynn and Lucy Carolan present the wonders of SCA.

Wideyed’s photographs are displayed within an atmospheric industrial themed installation. Photographic prints are presented on paper which is mounted upon cardboard tubing and displayed in a uniformed assembly-line arrangement. Each cylinder displays two images, juxtaposing the exterior and interior views and forming a dialogue between a visitor’s and worker’s perspective. Like the Gilbreth’s, Wideyed entered the factory as outsiders with fresh ideas, able to perceive special and intriguing aspects of the environment that workers often overlook in their familiarity with the functional space.

Despite displaying under the collective title Wideyed, the collaborators, Richard Glynn and Lucy Carolan, provide two complimentary yet distinguishable photographic representations of SCA Prudhoe Mill. On the left hand wall Richard Glynn presents his insight, which largely concerns the architectural qualities of the factory and how this suggests usage. His exterior shots, captured through a wide angle lens, present an expansive countryside dusted with a misty winter’s morning sunlight. SCA Prudhoe Mill features as an anonymous looking grey oblong nestled into the trees in stark contrast to the rural environment. Although this is an unspectacular and familiar scene, Glynn’s photography invests the space with intrigue and mystery through framing the ambiguous and unknown factory as a focal point amongst attractive natural textures in the foreground.

Richard Glynn,Untitled, 2013

Glynn’s interior photographs hint at the workers relationship to their environment through representing the factory’s architectural qualities or hidden details. Each photograph takes its name after a basic motion element called “therbligs” which was coined by the Gilbreth’s to analyse movements in a task. Glynn’s title’s such as “search” “select” “rest” “and inspect” may appear ironic as workers are often absent from the compositions, yet the workers presence is always felt. The empty rooms and unattended machinery allows viewers take a more active role in imaging factory activity. These works recall Frank and Lillian Gilbreth’s time-lapse photography where they would attach lights to workers hands to leave an impression of their movements. The photographs do not reveal the workers physical appearance, allowing the Gilbreth’s to focus objectively on their work patterns. In one of Glynn’s photographs ‘Transport Empty’ the tread marks in the dusty floor results in a similar chaotic line pattern achieved through Gilbreth’s method. Many of Glynn’s composition show expansive rooms dominated by an elongated floor space, which invites viewers to mentally step into the photograph and imagine the sensation of occupying the environment. Occasionally Glynn chooses to depict a lone worker, but they feature as an element of the environment rather than the sole focal point. The workers are undeniably presented as individuals with internal thought process- not a mere cog in a system.

Richard Glynn, 'Select', 2013

Lucy Carolan’s photographs displayed upon the right hand wall are characterised by a more painterly aesthetic and they reflect her personal interests in SCA. Whereas Glynn’s exterior shots establish location, Carolan is fascinated by the outdoor areas belonging to the factory that contain cubes of recycled material that will become tissue paper. The paper blocks feature pleasing colours and textures and they reminded me of ice blocks gleaming in the sunlight. One photograph features a magical cloud of tissue paper dust that looks spectacular like dry ice. Close inspections of the recycled paper reveals interesting details reflecting a personal history. Loved books and magazines now take on new form. Whilst viewing these photographs I became aware of the display and the life cycle of paper- how it was formed industrially, enjoyed as a product, and then is potentially recycled into tissue at SCA.

Lucy Carolan, 'The Mill's Recycling Plant Called Unifibres, Recyles Over 100,000 Tonnes of Waste Paper Per Year', 2013

Carolan is more concerned than Glynn with depicting the identity of the workers within the factory. She combines human expressions with machines, in a way that suggests a natural marriage. My personal favourite, ‘Ben MacFarlane’, features a working man lit by a florescent light, but Carolan creates an enticing composition filled with expression and resembling a Caravaggio painting. The subject, presumably called Ben, looks directly out at the viewer suggesting pride in his identity as worker. Naming the photograph after a worker places emphasis on individuality rather than just the job. The even sepia colouration has an inviting and nostalgic effect, and the machine feels as though it is an extension of Ben’s body. The light shining upon Ben alludes to Gilbreth’s study of workers through lights, but Carolan does not present a scientific scene- instead it privileges individualism and emotion.

Perhaps the most eye-catching work within the exhibition is a film of inside the tissue mill, which is projected upon a roll of muslin fabric. Its unusual presentation has an ephemeral quality, and although it clearly resembles toilet paper, it is not conveyed as a mundane domestic object, but as a delicate semi-transparent material. The projection shows a dancing ribbon of toilet roll appearing to have a life of its own. In contrast to the mechanical environment, it regains spontaneity and unpredictability through its fluid pulsing movement. The film plays to a backdrop of industrial sounds, but it is not offensive and jarring; it is a soothing rhythmic sound evocative of a beating heart or a sleeping lover.

The exhibition plays homage to Gilbreth’s ideas through showing how work spaces have benefitted from their insight by respecting human needs. I also believe Wideyed plays homage to their photographic innovation which preceded art photography, and influenced artists such as Man Ray and his 1935 ‘Space Writing’ series. Like the Gilbreths’, Wideyed unique perspective promotes the special and distinct elements that are not associated with heartless mass-production. The exhibition is filled with curiosity and magic and it has transformed my expectations of factories as banal sites.
Laura-Jade Klée
Listen to an Interview with Wideyed
Communications Manager Emma O'Neill talks to Lucy Carolan and Richard Glynn from Wideyed about their latest exhibition, Therblig, currently showing at New Art Exchange.

18 March 2013

Poetry Competition Winner!

Winner of the 2013 NAE, Nottingham Festival of Word’s Poetry Completion

Congratulations to Russell Christie, whose poem won our 2013 Nottingham's Festival of Words Poetry Competition. The poem was inspired by a work in the Realism in Rawiya exhibition 'Mother of Martyrs', Newsha Tavakolian, showing in our Main Gallery until 20th April. As a reward, the poem was displayed on International Women's Day in our reception area. Here's a picture of the poet next to his fantastic poem Feathered Edge

Feathered Edge

In the midst of all the vagaries of sense,
when seeing is a distance away
and the edges of doing seem to blur
as a tear fractures the day,
there is this one content.
There is this one.

When the fist of avarice
swipes through the wind
and snatches the closest away,
though wings are torn along a mortar edge,
there is this one content.
There is this nest of love.

Holding through uncertainty,
this room of carpet and fur;
this cove of confidence
in the hell of the world,
from which we launch
repeated excursions of blood.

We pass around the plastic cup,
a bucket of water our shrine,
and see all of the salt that we are.
We harness strength in this last resort
and rivers of children scream
through the beauty of our eyes.

We are the bastion of ourselves,
son-less and stronger than our sons.
We stand still, in this one content,
this making place, this scoop
in a bucket of water and blood,
this nest of love in collapsing buildings,
this home which we are.

Russell Christie

04 March 2013

Exhibition Review: Satta Hashem 'In Conflict'

Satta Hashem’s solo-show, In Conflict: Reflections on the Constant War in Iraq, which exhibited in New Art Exchange’s Central and Mezzanine Galleries, features a selection of ink drawings, acrylic paintings and mono-screen prints, spanning the past 10 years since the invasion of Iraq. Hashem’s drive is not to create propaganda; instead he presents an emotional response to the war. The works are always aesthetically striking and communicate the personal turbulence of war and the sorrow of loss.

The exhibition begins in the Central Gallery which mainly features ink drawings on paper. These works are small and intuitive like doodles. The exhibition title In Conflict describes the Iraq war, but also reflects the chaotic appearance of Hashem’s artworks. In his ink drawing ‘Widows at War no. 1769’, 2012, Hashem depicts four abstract forms suggestive of human figures. Inner turmoil is conveyed through the frenzy of scribbles occupying the figure’s heart and head whilst the limbs remain hollow spaces. There is something disturbing about Hashem’s refusal to satisfy the viewer’s natural urge to read the subject’s facial expression. The artist frequently uses widows as his subject matter, which contrast to the cold statistics of war- often the only aspect of war that we see.

Widows at War no. 1769, 2012

The Mezzanine Gallery contains larger drawings and Expressionist paintings upon large canvases. These life-size scenes are windows into another world and it has an emotionally absorbing effect upon its viewer. In ‘Life and Death', 2012 Hashem uses colour boldly to express emotion. The theme of conflict is presented aesthetically through the battle for dominance between contrasting colours. The abstract composition consists of a series of dynamic multi-coloured lines spiralling and intertwining through a sea of colours. The absence of a focal point is not restful on the eyes; instead the viewer is forced to actively scan and process the busy surface of the canvas. The energy and movement within the piece is achieved through the wild intuitive application of paint, and it invests the painting with an immediate rawness. In the context of ‘Life and Death’, the composition shares similarities with an anatomical model; the lines loosely resemble veins, and the red areas raw flesh and blood.

Life and Death, 2012

The final series of works within the exhibition are mono-screen prints, which are composed of multi-coloured geometric blocks in a Modernist style. Hashem utilises the theory of Quantum Realism, developed by the Iraqi artist Mahmoud Sabri, to interpret chemical properties into visual forms. The elements Hashem represent belong to chemical warfare, such as uranium, thulium, and iron. This scientific approach differs from the emotional use of colour in his paintings. Alongside his prints is a television screen displaying a slideshow of images which use abstract blocks of colour also determined by Quantum Realism. The television relates to how war is edited, recorded and communicated through news reports. Visually the slideshow is reminiscent of test cards broadcasted of television; another system utilising colour. Compared to other works in the exhibition, Hashem’s presentation of the Iraq war is more reflective, still and detached.

Resonant Frequency of Gold No.4, (2012)

Overall, I feel the exhibition deeply explores the emotional effect of war including the anxiety, destruction and loss, and it is conveyed in an engrossing and aesthetically interesting way. Difficult themes emerge in abstract forms- we are given an insight into troubled souls rather than a simple representation of facts. Throughout the exhibition Hashem’s artworks balance abstraction with representation, which allowed me to use my imagination and identify with the subject. I did not feel the exhibition solely represents Iraq, but instead the artworks respond to the social and personal effects of any war or any instance of dramatic turmoil. The exhibition represents something deeply troublesome and upsetting, presented in a way that we can all emotionally connect with.

Laura-Jade Klée
Marketing Assistant, New Art Exchange