By Elliot Bentley
READ THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE HERE
Elliot Bentley gets a sneak-preview of Newcastle Fine Arts student Chris Minchin’s new exhibition
It should always be admired when an artist attempts to take art out of the gallery and into a thoroughly unusual space.
In the case of upcoming installation Babel, it’s being thrust into the middle of Holy Trinity Church in Jesmond.
As you may have guessed from its name, Babel’s placement isn’t an arbitrary one. Chris Minchin is a Newcastle Fine Art student who grew up within the city and whose local communion was the very church he attended when younger, and the centrepiece of his first ever exhibition is a twenty-foot tower constructed entirely of the chairs within the building.
Speaking to Minchin about the project, he sees it as “a way of challenging the church”. “It’s to see what it could be in a different way and consider the perceptions of the Church at quite a turbulent time in its history.”
The installation is accompanied by a video of a violent exorcism that recently spread around the internet to general condemnation by its viewers. By bringing it into the church, Minchin says, he wants to ask questions of religion. “It’s meant to be a difficult thing to watch,” he says. “I want people to ask ‘how can be a church be graceful and let things like this happen?’”
The final part of the exhibition is a little more traditional: a series of photos form his year abroad in Poland.
“There was one day where we were climbing this hill and we looked down and we could see this quarry with really strange industrial structures in it. “It turned out it was a labour camp from the Second World War where several hundred thousand people died. Now it was this abandoned place that was inbetween history and now just becoming overgrown and flooding slowly and disappearing.”
The photos are indeed striking – a city of repressed memories slowly being reclaimed by nature. “They say a lot about discrimination, love, loss of stories, and time passing away,” says Minchin.
Despite the Tower of Babel being an obvious inspiration for the work, Minchin doesn’t see the exhibition as an affront to God.
“The Tower is used throughout the Bible as a symbol of change and transformation, which can be good things as well. So I see it as a good symbol,” he says.
Babel is on at Holy Trinity Church, Jesmond from 28 February until 4 March.