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Celebrating Chester’s contemporary art

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Artists and academics from the University of Chester were among the many talented individuals who took part in the launch of the Chester Contemporary this weekend.

Chester Contemporary is a new visual arts biennial for the city of Chester. 

Maggie Jackson, Emeritus Professor and Honorary Research Fellow, led an insightful discussion with five emerging artists commissioned to create new work for Chester Contemporary, while Dr Jeremy Turner, Programme Leader for BA (Hons) Fine Art, engaged in conversation with Chester Contemporary artist Jacq Bebb where the audience discovered the inspiration behind their two new artworks and how they relate to their formative experiences in the city.

Maggie said:

“The artists spoke with conviction, passion and integrity about their work and the necessity to keep making it regardless of current conditions for artists generally.  They described their time in Chester as an intense and formative experience in which they had given and been given a great deal. They have made a significant contribution to the Chester Contemporary.”

Jeremy said:

“It was a real pleasure to meet Jacq and to be able to spend some time researching and discussing their practice. Jacq’s relationship to Chester as a formative influence, which is evident in their most recent work, is central to an understanding of it. To be able to discuss that relationship on the Rows, site of one of the works and of some of those formative experiences was something quite important.” 

The Chester Contemporary, curated by Chester-born artist Ryan Gander OBE RA, is a collaboration between Cheshire West and Chester Council, University of Chester, StoryhouseLive, Open Eye Gallery and Edsentials and runs from 22nd September to 1st December 2023. 

Senior Lecturer in Fine Art, Graphic Design and Photography, Stephen Clarke joined artist Steph ‘Miracles’ Coathupe and Head of Chester Pride, Richard Euston, to install an exhibition Up Deva at Chester Pride’s Rainbow Tea Rooms which runs concurrently with the Chester Contemporary forming part of the many Chester Contemporary Fringe activities. 

Stephen said:

“Up Deva is a collaboration between Steph, Hannah Harry and myself and is a humorous combination of my photographs of Pompeii, taken in 1989 and Steph Coathupe’s drawings of animals in Chester Zoo.  

“Pompeii stands in for Chester, a city founded on the ruins of a Roman settlement, in which we have let loose the residents of Chester’s famous zoo! Hannah Harry has provided the wall texts that give a comic interpretation of the images.” 

The Rainbow Tea Rooms are situated in the centre of the city at 28 Bridge Street, CH1 1NQ – opening hours 9.30am – 5pm weekdays, 9am – 6pm Saturdays and 10am – 5pm Sundays. 

Associate Professor Bernadine Murray, Head of the Department of Art and Design at the University of Chester, said: We’re proud to be a part of the Chester Contemporary and to continue contributing to the vibrant artistic flow in the city, showcasing the talent and innovation that thrives here.” 

For more details, visit the official Chester Contemporary website.

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