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In 2012, mima was selected to host the Alexandra Reinhardt Memorial Award (ARMA) Artist in Residence. Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva was invited to produce a new site specific sound sculpture for mima’s garden. Elpida worked closely with mima’s Creative Apprentices as well as local communities and businesses to capture memories of Middlesbrough.
Elpida’s sound sculpture is situated in mima’s garden for all to enjoy. You can walk round and through the sculpture to activate the sound or hear the sounds here.
Elpidas starting point was to first explore, visit and research this great region, its rich landscape, industrial roots and pioneering heritage in iron and steel making.
Through a series of workshops and events, Elpida interviewed a wide range of people from Middlesbrough gathering and recording their stories and memories of living and working in the town including their hopes and dreams for the future, alongside sound recordings from local industry and heritage sites.
HA[SOFT]RD stands tall like a machined jewel using industrial parts and materials that reflect the town’s local economy and recent business growth. The honeycomb porcelain filters used widely in local industry float within a bespoke steel mesh which makes up the body of the work, perfectly framed within a strong steel structure.
The work is a tribute to the town’s industrial roots and the local community who proudly refer to themselves as ‘smoggies’, a nickname for people from Teesside that was coined due to the industrial nature of the area. It was first used as a derogatory term, but now many people proudly call themselves Smoggies, including supporters of Middlesbrough FC and local MP Tom Blenkinsop, who used it in a parliamentary speech in 2011.
The unusual name for the sculpture, HA[SOFT]RD, is inspired by a quote from Middlesbrough Mayor Ray Mallon, when talking to Elpida about the new work.
He said: “Middlesbrough’s industrial roots are firmly in iron and steel making, and it’s that pioneering heritage that gave the town its Infant Hercules image at the height of the industrial revolution.”
“But the town also has a long tradition of nurturing culture and the arts, from its historic art collection and mima, to the music, theatre and comedy performed in venues around the town every day of the week.”
“Someone once remarked that Middlesbrough people have a hard exterior, but a soft centre, and I think that’s a good description.”
As part of Elpida’s residency she interviewed and worked with staff at William Lane Foundry which has been casting on Teesside for 150 years.
To see Elpida’s Middlesbrough adventure, please visit her blog elpihv.co.uk.
About the artist
Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva was born in Macedonia and studied at Glasgow School of Art and the Royal College of Art. Elpida’s practice focuses on creating ambitious sculptural and site specific work. Elpida uses materials that are unusual, precious, ordinary and ephemeral from organic materials and foodstuffs to gold leaf. Central to her practice is an interest in responding to the particularities of a given location, its history, environment and communities.
About the Alexandra Reinhardt Memorial Award (ARMA)
The Alexandra Reinhardt Memorial Award was established in memory of the artist Alexandra Reinhardt. Funded by the Max Reinhardt Charitable Trust and managed by engage, the National Association for Gallery Education, the Award comprises an annual artist residency culminating in an artwork in the public realm. ARMA is supported by the Max Reinhardt Charitable Trust and run by engage, the National Association for Gallery Education
About engage, the National Association for Gallery Education
engage is a membership organisation representing gallery, art and education professionals in the UK and over 20 countries worldwide. engage promotes access to, enjoyment and understanding of the visual arts through gallery education. engage has run the Alexandra Reinhardt Memorial Award Artist Residency since 2012.
mima and Elpida would like to thank all who contributed to the making of mima’s sound sculpture.
engage, The National Association for Gallery Education www.engage.org
The project is supported by a range of local communities and businesses including William Lane, Eurotek, Damson Audio, MMA Architectural Systems Ltd and Ce-Tek.