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The Sheffield culture guide written by in-the-know locals

Marking Time

Janie Moore was artist in residence at Yorkshire Artspace’s Persistence Works when the gallery closed its doors recently. Her exhibition, Anatomy of a Loss, featured an interactive sculpture that visitors could contribute to, bringing people together to consider what loss means to them. It aimed to give people a way of expressing thoughts and remembrances, and to act as a counterpoint to the often overwhelming and isolating feeling that loss can be.

With the gallery now closed, Janie has set up a virtual connection to the piece through an online comments page. Add your comments to the dedication page and Janie will transcribe them onto the sculpture.

Digital Death Cafe
13th May, 4pm, free – book now (places limited)
Yorkshire Artspace is inviting people to join a digital conversation via webcam to discuss mortality and loss in an open environment, with people from a mix of backgrounds. These sessions are facilitated by volunteers, with the conversation led by its participants, meaning there is no agenda, and there are no objectives or foregone conclusions. It is a discussion group, rather than a grief or counselling session. Janie will give a short talk at the beginning of each session, discussing the work she made for the show.

Read on for our contributor Sean's review of the now-closed exhibition.

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All art carries meaning, regardless of its author’s intention. Some is politically charged, a prescriptive call-to-arms or stark reminder to be vigilant in an increasingly complex world; some is lyrical, a gentle beckoning to contemplate our environment, yet triggering different thoughts for each person who sees it. And there is art that negotiates a space between, art that takes something from both – poignancy and power from the first, engaging beauty from the latter.

Janie Moore’s Anatomy of Loss is a challenging show in terms of the themes that underpin it, yet is also one of artistic grace. Dealing with loss is difficult but Moore handles it here with integrity and sensitivity, in what proves to be an uplifting, hopeful experience. The open studio and show comprises a number of works in a range of media, demonstrating Janie’s versatility and ability to find the means that best supports her ideas. At first the works might seem dislocated, limbs from the same body, but coherence emerges in time.

Marking Time, is a drawing in biro on sealed envelopes of a woman smiling broadly. Its style is disengaged cross-hatching, an almost mechanical doodling to help pass the time and process the tragic loss of a loved one.

Next is a metal sink, its draining board overflowing with 683 used tea bags, speaking so ably of hoarding, the crippling inability to discard items regardless of value, and the fear of what might happen should they and their owner be separated. Like Marking Time, the act of repetition is crucial to our understanding of this work.

683 Thoughts of You

A small, framed drawing of a member of the Women's Royal Navy is here so immaculately rendered that it looks like an old, black and white photograph. Placed too high for close inspection, doubt remains as to its exact nature. It is an exquisite piece and a lynchpin for the show in saying so many profound things so simply and lightly. Drawing need not be sweeping gestures of charcoal in order to portray and elicit strong emotion.

Elsewhere are large drawings combining formal techniques – rubbing to create texture and a bond with this space and, perhaps most significantly, erasing to indicate absence. Janie will be working on these drawings during her time in the gallery. There is also a ‘found drawing’, wallpaper partially discoloured by sunlight and time leaving ghostly traces to tell their story, and a series of photographs of past work form an ongoing pin board and provide a fascinating insight into how an artist’s practice evolves.

In the centre stands a large work that will progress over the course of the exhibition. The artist’s intention is to construct an outsize overcoat, its heaviness equating to the feeling of bearing grief. Visitors are invited to share their own thoughts and feelings by writing on the sculpture to help create a monument to grieving, but also to having the opportunity to connect and share, to be heard and understood.

Anatomy of Loss is part of the Ways of Making series of exhibitions by Sheffield-based artists.

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