Plans for the Royal Albert Hall Project

Alison Ballance

As part of the Dialogue Box series

The second exhibition of the Dialogue Box series has been and gone, but for just over a week in July Alison Ballance’s piece ‘Plans for the Royal Albert Hall Project’ came to a close in the window space of the AirSpace Gallery. The striking window piece brought a red flash of art to the streets of Stoke on Trent, catching the eyes of passers by and drawing them in.

‘The piece in Dialogue Box is the last piece for Plans for the Royal Albert Hall Project which has been worked on, on and off, for several years. This project would involve inflating a hot air balloon inside the main auditorium of the hall. The hall’s eccentric and rotund shape turns it into a belly-like vessel. The hot air balloon would fill up inside the hall, silently pushing up against the building’s internal skeleton. During this time the project has gone from a formal, site specific installation, a surreal never-to-be-realised proposal, a romantic tribute, a collaborative piece with emphasis on the architectural structures; an idea which was realised in many different forms but never made. In preparation for this, plans have been drawn, models made, installation experiments been carried out, and re-drafted architectural drawings. I had originally proposed to show all the work I had made for this project in the Dialogue Box space. However when it came to installing the work I felt that a site specific piece would be better suited to the space, and more appropriate for the project as it was going to be the last piece made.

In my other work various media is again used to present either projects or responses to the built up environment, preferring to represent the fragment and the suggestion rather than crude over explanation. The proposal, by only being a suggestion of what it could possibly be, is a fragment. I see the fragment in architectural ruins, failures or incompleteness; attention is drawn to what is missing. My work has a reductive grammar which suits my conflicting feelings of life’s limitations alongside its potential. My primary medium is collage whether this takes its form in site specific installations or time specific pieces that are held together momentarily in a photograph. I use found objects, drawing and cuttings in my work all arriving fully loaded with cultural references and I enjoy seeing the dialogue that arises within the piece. ‘

-Alison Ballance


International Workshop of Plastic Arts 2008

Katie Shipley and David Bethell of the AirSpace Gallery recently completed a 1 week artists’ residency in Galicia, Northern Spain. The residency took place in La Solaina an artist’s foundation in Pilono, an agricultural village.

Together with 10 other international artists David and Katie spent the week visiting art spaces across the locality, including the Neira Vilas Foundation and the Central Galler of Contemporary Art in Santiago (which they were shown around by the director). They also spent their time making artwork in response to their unfamiliar surroundings and eating many many meals.


For more details about the residency see David and Katie’s websites




Look; differently

1st-12th July 2008 at AirSpace

The camera has become an item that we take for granted; I remember my first camera, a plastic case with flip up view finder that I used to hang around my neck with pride on day trips. Now I forget that I carry a camera with me everywhere, because it is hidden within my mobile phone. Complex cameras have been reduced down to simple point and click, it seems professional photography is within everybody’s grasp. And yet upon entering an exhibition of pin hole photography I feel that I am brought down to earth, immaculate detailed photography holding places and people with such sensitivity are brought here from merely a hole in a box. I find it hard to understand exactly how that pin hole can create these images but the simple contraption is able to hold my attention much more than a shot from a 7 mega pixal digital camera. It is encouraging to see that although many of us are enticed by the easy click of a switch there are still those that long for the simple and archaic technologies of our past.

The latest exhibition at the AirSpace Gallery is that of International Women’s Research Resource, Iris. Look; differently uses the gallery space in a more traditional sense, the simple wall mounting draws you attention to the detail held within. And you are rewarded with detailed imagery and blurry long shots with comments such as ‘feeling naughty taking a photo in the national naughty’. From what the artists say I find that pin hole photography allows you to develop a relationship with your work, instead of seeing and taking you are required to make and risk. There is no way of knowing how an image will turn out. Seeing the exhibition has inspired me to bring out my dusty 35mm SLR and an old Lomo I got free from a website in my teens. The only question is how easy is it to get hold of 35mm film these days?


Who Are We? Who am I?

25th July – 9th August

Preview 25th July 7pm

AirSpace celebrates its second birthday with an exhibition of work from graduating students from Loughborough and Staffordshire University.

At this time of year graduating students are asking themselves who, where and what they are; deciding what to do after education and searching for their entry into the world. A new generation of lawyers, journalists and artists are born.

Surrounding them at this time of change are bigger changes; Stoke on Trent is undergoing a massive regeneration, looking to move forward to find a new beginning and future. And within that AirSpace is trying to establish as a permanent gallery, bringing national and international artists to the city; widening AirSpace’s and the City’s audiences. These new beginnings are happening all around us and as the world evolves it is easy to find yourself asking similar questions; who, where and what am I?

The changes that we see lead us through doubt and excitement to a re evaluation of our place as individuals and groups in society. The artists in ‘Who are we? Who am I?’ all graduated from Fine Art courses this year, they each delve deep into their own concerns with this evaluation; some look to the past for reassurance and comfort and others take the future by the horns ready to run with it with eagerness and excitement.

Wendy Mayer’s work is an exploration of the ageing process using surreal self portraits to describe her thoughts.

Kate Lynch’s work is a site specific installation, highlighting the history of the gallery space and evoking thoughts of the redevelopment of Stoke on Trent.

Graffiti Artist Jack Tierney questions the identity of the artist and how they are perceived through their anonymous work.

Helen Saunders’ work sees the effects of the desires for change within a mechanical world.

Matt Smith puts the viewer in his own work, questioning the viewer’s relationship to himself.

Who Are We? Who am I? Consists of artists from Staffordshire University and Loughborough University, they include Kate Lynch, Wendy Mayer, Jack Tierney, Helen Saunders, and Matt Smith.

The opening of ‘Who are we? Who am I?’ sees a dual celebration; the introduction of five Fine Art graduates to the world of Post Education and the 2nd Birthday of the AirSpace Gallery.

For the celebrations we will be showing examples of past exhibitions, sharing cakes and we hope that by giving graduates from different universities the chance to exhibit together we will help to forge relationships and introduce artists from outside of the city to what Stoke on Trent has to offer.

For more information visit: www.airspacegallery.org or contact [email protected] 01782 261221.