Some Assembly Required | Group exhibition

Some Assembly Required
Ardra Nair | Archie Ogus | Brandon Pearce | Elizabeth Oughton | Frank Pretorius | Kitty McKay

Preview: Thursday 25 April, 6 – 9pm
26 April – 4 May 2024

Some Assembly Required
brings together the work of six Newcastle University MFA students at Slugtown, Newcastle upon Tyne.  Featuring new works by Ardra Nair, Frank Pretorius, Elizabeth Oughton, Brandon Pearce, Archie Ogus and Kitty McKay the show makes visible the collaborative nature of group exhibitions, and considers what might be achieved when artists embrace their differences and produce work in divergence.

Eschewing tight thematics, Some Assembly Required explores contrasting relationships towards the purpose of exhibition building and meaning making.  The works in this exhibition span a range of media and references; including painting, urban cartographies, and class and queer politics.  Through bringing these diverse practices together in this exhibition, the show aims to both flatten the hierarchies of prescribed value, and to adopt the position of a playful experiment into the messiness of curation as creative practice.

Some Assembly Required is situated in a specific moment, within a specific context – acknowledging the loss of many integral art spaces in the North East over recent years.  These spaces provide meaningful opportunities for artists to experiment, collaborate and build community, as a place to look and talk about art.  Through the steady reduction of spending on the arts, and tighter funding principles, mean that arts practices must increasingly demonstrate its usefulness. 

Archie Ogus is an installation artist who primarily works with acrylic paint to create  large-scale, site-specific installations which often encompass multiple dimensions  extend beyond the canvas. These works take the form of sharp, geometrical murals, layering masking and duct tape along with the paint, resulting in works which spread  across walls and floors to reconfigure often overlooked spaces, objects or materials.  

Ogus’ work in Some Assembly Required will feature a geometric mural painted  directly onto the gallery walls, to transform the space, responding to the works in the  show.  

Ardra Nair is a painter whose work explores the uncanny and the transformation of the human form into a robotic posthuman phase. Her work harnesses the skills and  techniques of oil painting to produce documentative pieces that look almost  photorealistic. Nair includes flora and fauna as subjects within her pieces along with  human beings, as she wants to present the stance that while animals and plants may  differ from us in various ways, these differences do not warrant them being  considered in-human; they are simply counterparts which have evolved to adapt to  the differences in their environment compared to ours. 

Within Some Assembly Required, Ardra Nair will be exhibiting a triptych of oil  paintings on canvas depicting realistic imagery. Nair is attempting to overwhelm the  audience with the volume of detail in these works, while presenting paintings that  encompass three stages of a transformative process within the confines of a single  canvas in three different contexts; the head, the arms and the torso. 

Brandon Pearce is a multidisciplinary artist who works across sculpture, poetry, and  photography to explore working class relationships, and specifically, his personal  relationship with his father. Pearce’s work focuses on loss and reconnection,  grounded in the exploration of his family heritage. He weaves conversations with his  father into the fabric of his work, through both direct dialogue and indirect expression,  navigating the complexities of their shared narrative. Working with sculpture and  installation often allows Pearce to sustain a deep connection with materials,  translating emotional threads into tangible forms. 

For Some Assembly Required, Pearce will be investigating themes of working-class  relationships through installation. Through exhibiting works of prints and poetry, the  work will be delving into contemplations and emotions regarding the artist and his  father. 

Elizabeth Oughton is a multidisciplinary artist whose practice involves the use of  installation, sculpture, ceramics, walking and writing. Oughton’s work is inspired by  rock and stone, and the immense time frames of the geological world and the implied  histories and narratives inherent in rock. Her work presents a new perspective on  how the minerals contained within our bodies, the infrastructure and technologies of  our world, as well as the symbolic and aesthetic, all bind us into deep relationships  with rock. Oughton expands a phenomenological approach to accepting the liveliness  of rock and matter more generally.

For Some Assembly Required, Oughton uses print to explore the idea of the  palimpsest in rock time.  

Frank Pretorius is an abstract representational artist who often employs traditional  materials such as charcoal, ink on paper and oil paints on canvas to explore the  process of deconstruction and representational reconstruction of imagery, thus  looking into the value and influence of symbolism within the visual arts. Pretorius’  inspiration for his imagery often comes from his adventures in the outdoors,  preferably across Africa. He uses his choice of media to capture the light’s elusive  quality of transforming figures and landscapes within moments while pursuing  snippets of the narrative of life. By securing these ambient intervals of time and  securing them on canvas and paper, Pretorius interprets the notion of being  conscious of his surroundings in the moment. 

For this group show, Pretorius will be displaying a large-scale oil painting on canvas,  looking into the artist’s heritage, family and childhood. This painting, among others in  his practice, stands as a visual narrative that employs animals in a symbolic manner;  in this case, the Hyena stands to represent the dark side of humanity. The artist contrasts this particular symbol with a notion of naivety depicted through the image  of a young girl.  

Kitty McKay is an interdisciplinary practitioner, whose work encompasses moving  image, sound, installation, sculpture, collage, live works, writing and social  engagement. Kitty’s approach to practice is often collaborative and open ended, and  informed by feminist, queer and crip frameworks for understanding, and overcoming, the ways power constructs place. They often create assemblages of found, low-fi and  open-sourced objects and media. 

For Some Assembly Required, Kitty is making-kin with parasites, namely bedbugs,  locating them in public space, bringing them into the gallery in the form of new  moving-image and sculptural work. Using the bus as a familiar public site, Kitty  identifies parasitic relationships as disruptive, monstrous, spatial, potentially queer, inherently political, and as something maybe to embrace.