Britain’s industrial heritage, first forged in Shropshire’s deep Ironbridge Gorge more than 300 years ago, has had a profound impact on society and our environment.
This eclectic, free exhibition will show artworks by leading contemporary artists alongside pieces from the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust’s nationally Designated collection of Industrial Art.
Co-curated by the Trust and Meadow Arts, as part of the Shifting Worlds contemporary arts programme, it has been made possible thanks to the support of Arts Council England. A highlight of the exhibition will be Minster, created by one of today’s foremost sculptors, Tony Cragg, in which stacks of circular machine parts suggest a view of mountain peaks, spires or chimneys. It depicts how the Industrial Revolution introduced verticality in the landscape that was once only reserved to churches or cathedrals.
Other special works include a copper and bronze sculpture by Alison Wilding, Her Furnace, where the Lancashire-born artist connects the intimacy of the body with the hard edged physicality of the industrial world.
Works by Richard Long, Michael Landy, Jeremy Deller, Clare Mitten, Stuart Whipps and others will contribute to a visually compelling line up of artists who each tackle post-industrial revolution themes in their own unique ways.
This contemporary perception will be contrasted with that of 19th century artists, through a display of exciting and rarely seen items from Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust’s own collection of historic industrial art. Highlights will include a sketch that captures the energy and dynamism of a blast furnace in operation by Alfred William Hunt; Thomas Hornor’s startlingly modern wash drawing Rolling Mill, Merthyr Tydfil; and Brandard’s engraving of JMW Turner’s Rain Steam and Speed. Each work portrays the coming of the industrial age with a sense of wonder, awe and progress.
Landscape with Machines runs from Friday 9 October to Friday 18 December 2015 in the Coalbrookdale Gallery adjacent to Enginuity.
Viaduct, Stockport, 1986
Silver Bromide Print
Courtesy the Artist and British Council Collection