TEN review: A fun, eclectic smorgasbord

Variety is the spice of life and this is never more true than when discussing art. “TEN: Then and Now” the latest exhibition by the Norman Rea Gallery truly captures this ideal.

Running from October 14-28, this exhibition celebrates ten years of the gallery’s current location in Derwent College. The Norman Rea shows off the length and breadth of art displayed there over these years, with each piece being presented from a previous exhibition, allowing for an eclectic collection of multiple artists’ works.

TEN celebrated a wide range of artistic expression, with accompanying audio pieces, a series of films playing, and three bands performing to help kick off the exhibition in style.

As I walked in, there was a brightly lit corridor housing a range of sculptures and paintings on my right, a wide room to the left dimly lit featuring blue, projecting film pieces of wistful flickers of everyday life. The exhibition a warm invite on a drizzly autumnal evening providing an inclusive atmosphere suggested through the breadth of different artistry on display. 

Image by Morgan Simpson

Initially, I was greeted by some of the exhibition’s more abstract pieces, my eye being drawn to an abstract piece by Greg Farndon; large swathes of grey and white adorned with flecks of striking colours representing shapes mimicking an unintelligible language. It seemed like a reflection of the exhibition itself, wide open impersonal space like a reference to an urban landscape and an open minded creative approach, a blank canvas of sorts and invitation to reflect, pause and stay a while. 

This was accompanied by a collage on the right and interestingly bordered a photograph of the retired York Odeon cinema on the right inviting an open humane response to the nature of artistic expression.

As i walked up and down the wall bordering the entrance, this becomes even more apparent. Sculptures such as Peter Donohoe’s ‘Entwined’, a simple minimalistic copper piece, displayed alongside others such as ‘Prop for killing a shaman’; a piece which looks like it would be just as comfortable in a history museum as an art gallery. 

The impact of so many contrasting pieces, for me, provided a richer view of the subjective form of artistic expression. Particularly poignant was a Jackson Pollock esque painting representing the human body and interactions with flesh juxtaposed to a series of photographs regarding body positivity in regards to scars.

As a whole, TEN exhibited such a wide range of art that it could have resulted in jarring mishmash but was instead a fun eclectic smorgasbord.

The first band to perform was Violet Contours (devoid of two members) providing a relaxed atmosphere with muted guitar melodies and soulful vocals. The film pieces, specifically the macro film describing the intimate movements of a lady bird, provided a fitting accompaniment to their chill sound.

Image by Morgan Simpson

Following them where The Shamble who gave an energetic performance getting several of the crowd whooping and dancing along to their upbeat tracks. A rousing cover of ‘break up with your boyfriend I’m bored’ was met with resounding approval as was the band in general who seemed like they were having as much fun as the crowd were. 

The evening was rounded off by Laura Kindelan who, with her band, performed a groove filled set providing a perfect vibe to the funky aesthetic the exhibition gives off. 

As a whole, TEN exhibited such a wide range of art that it could have resulted in jarring mishmash but was instead a fun eclectic smorgasbord.

The TEN exhibition at the Norman Rea Gallery is on until October 28 in Derwent College. Featured image by Morgan Simpson.