Guests & Hosts

  • Date:
    13 December 2012–3 February 2013

Betterplace Portraiture, Annabel Dover, Ceal Floyer, Jessica Harby, Hayley Lock, Dane Mitchell, Ben Rivers, James Smith

The first exhibition in Number Nine Guildhall toasts the ghosts of the former hotel and considers the transient nature of temporary exhibitions with a gleefully sinister edge. Institutions are both hosts and guests at different sites; artists’ works are given homes but fleetingly. The gallery turns into a hotel for artworks from Northampton to New Zealand, with changing seasons of guests where memories are still lingering – the artists use mediums and could turn into mediums.

A wry nod to the Fishmarket’s past is captured with James Smith’s photographs documenting the deserted upper levels of Greyfriars bus station in Northampton that were designed to be bustling offices but turned into desolate dead spaces – a spectre for the town centre. Annabel Dover’s new film documents people’s experiences of ghosts including a museum guard, a Sherlock Holmes actor and Machine Mart worker, as part of her ongoing exploration of invisible stories and the traces of this life and the next. Continuing this mortal question is Betterplace Portraiture, a collaborative project by Darren Banks and Flora Whiteley. They offer a service to connect you with your dearly departed pet through a seance. With the help of your will the artists’ medium will reveal a portrait of your pet in a crystal ball.

Building on Jessica Harby’s previous work on Patty Hearst, Stockholm Syndrome and fluid identity, she explores the stories we tell ourselves about our lives using a combination of memory, hallucination and a certainty of control. These are the visuals we carry around with us, the sometimes warped ghosts of ourselves and experiences. Visuals, real and imagined, pass as equal truth for her works that are inspired by memories, hallucinations, Le Corbusier and the obliteration of the organic. Dane Mitchell works across media and inspired the title of this exhibition in his venn diagram of Guest and Host. Shown along side is a work referencing Spinoza and the questioning of the supernatural. Ben Rivers’ film Slow Action juxtaposes science fiction and ecology in mock observations of doomed inhabitants on semi-fictional islands. Hayley Lock’s Dark Glass offers a point of observation at the back end of the gallery, reflecting the entire space and the on-viewer. The claude glass is a convex blackened glass that was used as a drawing tool until the Victorian era. It gained occult status as it seems to see more than you in a persistent gaze. The entire show can be seen from the perspective of the dark glass, and perhaps more. Finally, but also first, Ceal Floyer’s Welcome mat welcomes people to the world as they leave – there is a whole world to see, we are all guests.


Betterplace Portraiture
13–15 December 2012, times variable
The Betterplace Portraiture surgery will open for bookings for their pet seance service on the evening of 13 December from 6pm. Book with their receptionist for a session with their medium to get in touch with pets who have passed on to a better place.

Crit Group
15 January 2013, 7pm

Open to artists, writers and more, the Crit Group is for anyone wanting to talk about their work in progress with peers. The Group is run by artists Kate Harrison and Peter Slack and you can join their dedicated Facebook group for announcements and discussion.

Creative Family Workshop with Kezia Merrik
22 January 2013, 2pm

Join artist Kezia Merrik for a playful two-hour workshop for families of all ages. Participants will use a range of materials to respond to the current exhibition, Guests & Hosts, from drawing to more experimental techniques and materials.
All ages and abilities welcome, just drop in!
(Children 12 years and under must be accompanied by an adult)
Tickets £1

Pecha Kucha Night
25 January 2013, 7pm

20 slides, 20 seconds per slide, come and show everyone what you do! Whether you are an artist, writer, designer, musician, collector, curator, fanatic, whatever you are come and share it in 20 slides. We are collaborating with MK Gallery to host Pecha Kucha Nights so either come along and find out more about what people are doing or book in and join in presenting your practices and passions. The next PKN will be in Milton Keynes.
To book in email [email protected] with PKN in the subject of your email.

Talk: Sarah Sparkes
30 January 2013, 2pm, at The University of Northampton, Avenue Campus

Researcher, artist and curator Sarah Sparkes has been presenting GHostings since 2008. GHost aims to address the various roles ghosts play in contemporary culture by bringing artists, writers, curators, researchers and others together. The GHostings have taken place in ‘haunted’ locations including Senate House, St John on Bethnal Green and more. Sarah will be talking about her research project and answering questions from the audience.

Screening: Ben Rivers, Slow Action
31 January 2013, 7pm

Drop into Number Nine to watch Slow Action, a post-apocalyptic science fiction film that brings together a series of four 16mm works which exist somewhere between documentary, ethnographic study and fiction. Continuing his exploration of curious and extraordinary environments, Slow Action applies the idea of island biogeography – the study of how species and eco-systems evolve differently when isolated and surrounded by unsuitable habitat – to a conception of the Earth in a few hundred years; the sea level rising to absurd heights, creating hyperbolic utopias that appear as possible future mini-societies.

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