Threshold Festival 2011

Contemporary Urban Centre
11-13 February 2011

Review by Sebastian Gahan

Across the entire length of the Contemporary Urban Centre, deep in the Baltic Triangle, Threshold was filling the usually footfall free venue with people in the triple figures.

Indeed, it was somehow pleasing to see a space as good as this finally being used for what it was intended for and on the third floor you could see the difference that a few hundred people and some choice artwork really makes to the atmosphere. With various installations and exhibitions filling the space, there was much to see and the most impressive single artist works were Robyn Woolston's vast hall of plastic bags; a different piece by day, piquing your curiosity with its island like composition, and by night, lit up with lots of fairy lights it was a dark homage to its semi-political title. Also impressing - possibly the best work in the building in fact - was Joan Walmsley's breathtakingly simple yet tragic series Aftermath.

Joan revealed in conversation that the set of nineteen images helped her through a time of her life that was steeped in grief, and there is a story of sorts through the set of a human body once full of life, rotting away, becoming less able to cope with life and gradually fading away into death. The use of space in the pictures makes them even more effective and imbues them with a sense of being isolated, alone in your existence with nowhere to go but further so. The fact they sat in her attic for ten years before being displayed just makes them even more special. In the same gallery also could be found work from photographer Tony Glover, who has some excellent images indeed. The sense of urban space you get from his work is eye opening and made a good contrast with the more internal work from Joan.

Elsewhere in the gallery space that filled the third floor was Twinned, the first part of HeadSpace's twin exhibition with their usual venue at Egg. Given the space to expand, the works took on a life of their own and the larger works really gave out a good image in this space. The exhibitors were mostly HeadSpace regulars including excellent work from Anton Dolders, Sophie Green, Jazamin Sinclair, Anna Di Scala, and many more artists. Also of a more spontaneous nature was the Draw the Line team making the white walls of the space they occupied colourful with words, pictures, and general drawings that were either very worthy or very silly, but all done in the spirit of fun.

The Threshold Festival as a whole was very rewarding from many angles, not least the art aspect, and although you could still have fitted more art into the building, there's always next year to add your voice to the mélange of creativity! I'll be there next year, will you?

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