Sunny Bank Mills was founded in 1829 and specialised in worsted spinning and weaving until ceasing in 2008, when it began to be transformed into creative spaces and eventually hosted its first art exhibition in 2012.
'Raw Edge', the current exhibition, brings together work by members of the Yorkshire Sculptors Group, responding to the concept of boundaries and raw edges. This concept has been approached and examined in a variety of media and by employing a variety of methods and processes by members of the group.
The two 'District 7' pieces on show in this exhibition subtly raise the question of when a work is a painting and when it is a sculpture, where do we place the dividing line? Is there, or rather, should there be a dividing line between the two? Can a work simultaneously be a painting and a sculpture?
Robert Rauschenberg constructed 'Combines', as he called them, which were much more overt in presence. They seemed to remove distinctions between one medium and the other, making it extremely difficult to categorise the work.
The 'District 7' tiles are more modest in nature. From a distance, it could be assumed they were small, square paintings. Up close, the various levels of the tile components can be discerned. These are clearly solid and therefore the piece has been constructed using wood and/or MDF panels. In the past, paintings were often made of wood, the 'Mona Lisa', for example, was created with oil paint on a small panel of poplar wood. The two pieces here, however, have been deliberately built up to create a modular grid that varies in thickness, and have been painted in acrylic. They are certainly paintings and yet they have also been constructed as sculptures.
We can therefore ask ourselves how we would categorise them and how important we feel that categorisation process is. It seems to change the perception of the work and also its meaning. As with any work, we begin by asking ourselves what is that we are looking at here and we then progress by asking further questions. From that point on, each viewer's 'meaning' of the work will be developed individually, according to the different answers proposed to each question in turn.
It is definitely worth seeing this exhibition. Each work asks pertinent questions and makes for a very enjoyable day out in Farsley.