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Free Admission

Joanne Tatham and Tom O’Sullivan – A Proposal To Ask Where Does A Threshold Begin & End


3 July 2018 - 7 October 2018

London and Newcastle-based artists Joanne Tatham and Tom O’Sullivan use many media, frequently making large ‘beast-like’ structures that are hand-painted in vibrant palettes and cartoon faces. Their works appear to be simple and exuberant but often provoke complex discussion around identity and representations of place.

They created a temporary public work, a series of photographs and a text, throughout 2017, in the context of our tenth anniversary. The first stage of this project consists of a proposal, shown as a scale model. The maquette puts forward a large arch that forms a portal or threshold connecting our building with the space outside and becomes a temporary public work from July to October 2018.

The form of this piece echoes the shape of the Tees Transporter Bridge. The brightly-coloured pattern incorporatesome of Middlesbrough and Teesside’s iconic cultural landmarks, including Anish Kapoor’s sculpture Temenos and Anglo-Saxon jewellery found at Loftus. By re-presenting these used and misused symbols of the area, the artists highlight discussions about who shapes the images of this region and how that links to a popular imagination of it.

Ten hand-printed photographs in hand-made frames are shown in privately owned and civic spaces around Centre Square (MIMA, Holiday Inn Express, Cleveland Business Centre and Middlesbrough Town Hall). A publication of short fictional texts, A Cleveland Oddity, can be collected (free) from MIMA. Both photographs and texts are on display from Saturday 26 May 2018 to coincide with Middlesbrough Town Hall’s re-opening, following an extensive refurbishment investment programme.  From July, a large structure forms a new entrance to MIMA until October 2018.

The complete body of work will enter the Middlesbrough Collection, the town’s modern and contemporary holdings of art and craft, housed at MIMA.

This work should be seen in the context of the Tees Valley’s innovative history of commissioning public art and as part of ongoing work to offer new representations of the region looking forward. It reflects on local context and identities, and perceptions of the area. This body of work comes at a time of change in Middlesbrough’s Centre Square with the development of new offices, landscaping and the relocation of Claes Oldenburg’s Bottle of Notes sculpture nearby.

The work was commissioned by MIMA with support from Arts Council England and Middlesbrough Council.


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