art salford

It’s your last chance to see ‘21st Century Sleepwalk’, Emma Talbot’s art exhibition at Caustic Coastal, the large-scale art installation enters its last week of residence at the Salford-based venue.

The exhibition’s final day on Saturday will be accompanied by a free guided tour from the artist from 2pm until 3.30pm.

Emma Talbot, born in 1969 in Worcestershire, is a practicing artist and a painting tutor at the School of Arts and Humanities at the Royal College of Art.

Although she didn’t come from an artistic background, noting that she never went to museums or galleries as a child or knew anything about being an artist, she said: “but my grandparent’s house was full of (mostly non-Western) artworks and interesting objects that they’d collected from abroad in their house, that made a big impression on me”

Along with her grandparent’s collections, Etruscan and Greek mythology has an impact on her artwork.

For this specific exhibition, she was inspired by a life cycle.

She said:

“The more I thought about the three distinct spaces that make up Caustic Coastal, the more I had a sense of a beginning, an ending and a walkway in-between. This naturally evolved into thoughts about birth, death and life as a walk between those two points. When I thought about life as a walk – I thought it was more like a sleepwalk, where we experience the illusion of being alive – incorporating the external world into our own minds in a kind of dream.

“The regeneration of Salford seemed as transformative as scenes in dreams can be – and I was interested in combining mythology with everyday life.”

Sleepwalking through life

There is a grandeur to the exhibition; painted silk sheets hang from wall to wall, spanning the full length of the warehouse space. They depict the psychological responses to everyday life from the perspective of a ‘21st Century Sleepwalker’, a contemporary member of society, navigating their way through a changing city.

Emma elaborated on the magnitude of the pieces; she said: “some of the artworks in this exhibition are the most ambitious scale I’ve made – the painted silk hanging is about 10 meters long – and the three dimensional piece in the final room is very large scale.

“The language of the work is recognisably mine – but there are strategies I’ve been able to use here that I haven’t had a chance to explore before. For example, thanks to Caustic Coastal’s help and support, I was able to realise a sound piece and use programmed lighting in the installation for the first time, which was great.”

Caustic Coastal is an independent art label based in Salford. In her own words, Emma describes the Caustic Coastal as “such an interesting, experimental space and so supportive of contemporary artists”; she hopes that “the city recognises the cultural impact of these types of spaces and supports them.”

Emma Talbot’s ‘21st Century Sleepwalk’ closes on Saturday December 1.


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