In 2015 and 16 Wyre Council and LeftCoast offered six Wyre based contemporary artists the opportunity to take up residency in some of the areas’ most iconic locations.
The residencies were an opportunity for the artists to work in non-art spaces and to engage with the community to help shape the work that was produced.
The commissions focused on people and places; finding the stories of the everyday and revealing something about the lives of people in Wyre and provided the artists with the opportunity to escape galleries, studios and their usual haunts and base themselves at out of the ordinary locations such as motorway service stations and river banks.
Fine artist Denise Keen-Junk is one of the six residency artists. She is a contemporary painter/printmaker who has exhibited nationally and internationally and creates abstract and landscapes paintings in acrylic/inks and wax and specialises in intaglio and relief prints. For this project she based herself at the famous Fleetwood Market where she acquainted herself with the stall holders and visitors to find out about their daily lives and routine. From these conversations Denise has created work which reflect the people she has met.
She said “The opportunity to take part in the Wyre residencies has created a unique opportunity to work in an area I probably would not have had the chance to, and meeting a whole range of people has created so many ideas that the energy is flowing and I am excited about this new body of work.”
Rick Thompson and Carlito Juanito based themselves at Wyre Estuary Country Park where they documented sound and field recordings in the hope of raising awareness of the audible beauty of the two places.
Possibly the first artist in residence at a motorway service station photographer Henry Iddon based at Forton Service Station commented: “the vast majority of people will have visited a motorway service station at least once in their lives – but the average visit length is only 20 minutes. Few people spend a significant amount of time there, and attempt to get ‘under the skin’ of these places. This residency gave me that exact opportunity, at one of the UK’s most iconic service stations. These sites are often located in rural areas yet offer an urban experience. Forton is no different, but on closer inspection has it’s own community, memories, and characters – some of which I uncovered”.
Jayne Simpson, fine artist and lecturer has been in residence at Fleetwood Museum where she has been collecting conversations with visitors and staff to uncover stories which construct what it is that makes the museum so important to everyone who uses it.
Multi-media artist Alistair J Parker has explored the history and future of the Poulton to Fleetwood Railway which opened in 1840 and closed in 1999. Alistair said: “exploring the old Fleetwood railway brought me into contact with those engaged in its renovation, historians of the line and people who had had experience of the railway as users, employees or living close to it. In my exhibition I hoped to reveal an important aspect of the history of Wyre and uniqueness of the first railway to give birth to a seaside town”
WYRE ARTIST NETWORK
A new Wyre Artist Network is also being established to help share experiences, ideas and resources. The network will be a place where Wyre based artists can come together to work more collaboratively and give a collective voice.