Northern Echo Artical

June 23, 2009

Northern Echo smaller

The Northern Echo has covered the exhibition in today’s issue. The show will be open until Friday 26th June 12 – 6pm.

The exhibition has been so popular that we have decided to extend it by two days for those who were unable to see it or would like to revisit. It will now finish on Friday 26th June. Opening times will be 12 – 6pm daily until then. We hope you can make it down.

Facebook Event Page

June 8, 2009

We now have a Facebook page for the exhibition and the preview event. Please share with your friends and people who may be interested in the show.



Venue change

June 2, 2009

Please note, Empty Shop has moved from 94c Gilesgate to

1 Framwellgate Bridge

The new premises is right in the centre of Durham. It used to be Cartridge World and Concepts Music shop before that.

Here is Empty Shops version with photograph of the exterior of the gallery

Empty shop location large map

Shock of the Used

May 26, 2009

Empty Shop,94c Gilesgate
Durham, DH1 1JA.
Sat 20th – Wed 24th June

Preview: Fri 19th June 6pm – 8pm

Exhibition of Photography, Drawing and Mixed Media

Toby Lloyd, Iain Harker and Steven Walker/50Ft Long Horse

Shock Of The Used brings together Steven Walker of 50ft Long Horse,
Toby Lloyd and Iain Harker in their first UK collaborative show, wherein
they have created new drawing, photographic and object based work
to investigate issues, narratives and aesthetics around the notion of ‘the
used’. Expect unusual recycling and a load of old rubbish. A brave, intuitive project for a brave, intuitive space.

Steven Walker

May 26, 2009


My work for Shock of The Used is fundamentally a kind of research examining the bric-a-brack, nostalgic or recycling-based inclinations I initially had in response to the theme. Doing so through scientific and philosophical concepts, I want to re-examine the mundane day-to-day act of throwing out the old, obsolete or dead.

Creating work with one eye on the scientific systems at work under the surface, it has surprised me that the cold, logical thinking about the project has brought out a psychological or emotive response.  Using found and used objects as a base for drawings or assemblages has revealed a contradiction in the scientific approach in developing my ideas; lending a human story or imagined personal history because of the retrospective nature of the used objects from which I have worked with to make a balancing assemblage and drawings.  Developmental works have consisted of an object and a claim made about that object. The work’s identity fluctuates between its materiality and some cerebral construct hovering around it.

In Isaac Newtons’ ‘Law of Conservation of Energy’ it states that new energy can never be created, and existing energy can never be destroyed.  It can only be converted from one form to another. Our cars convert the energy that holds the atoms of gasoline together into movement by breaking those bonds with a controlled explosion. All the energy from the movement of the car goes into moving us and all the air around the car. Our bodies run on energy, and our bodies can be converted to energy by other living things when we die.

Biologically we are essentially a programme, commanding cells which eventually malfunction, from which new ones are cloned in their place.  Finally the butterfly effect of this constant malfunctioning and cloning corrupt the programme and we mix back into the elements around us.

I’m both fascinated and amused by science’s dogmatic determinism: the belief that any event or action, however complex – a repair mission for the Hubble telescope, a disposable Ikea picture frame insert – arises from hydrogen atoms bashing together during the Big Bang.

Toby Lloyd

May 26, 2009

Oxfam, 33 Percy Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, £4.98

Toby Lloyd – Oxfam, 33 Percy Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, £4.98 (2009)

“Thrift is creative, waste is unpoetic” – G.K. Chesterton

Toby Lloyd uses his new body of work, Re, to seek alternatives to the consumer culture of the High Street. Following on from, Consumed, made during his MA Photography at Sunderland University (2007-8) in which he drew attention to the ubiquitous and suffocating nature of materialism, the new work questions how we attribute value to the things we buy.

The concept behind Re is that Lloyd requests donations of a full suit of clothing bought from a charity shop, complete with the plastic bag and receipt. He then dresses in the clothing, and in common with Consumed, places the bag over his head before making a studio self-portrait. The title is made up of the name and address of the charity shop and the price of the outfit.

Lloyd’s work is influenced by performance artists from the 1970s, such as Bruce Nauman, and the contemporary work of Matthew Barney. Like them, he sets himself a set of constraints within which to operate creatively. Constructing boundaries which perhaps mirror the range of constrictions we face, socially, politically and physically, in everyday life. In the case of Re the constraint is the formulaic process of acquiring the clothes and titling the image, and then the physical constriction of placing the bag over his head without space to breath whilst making the self-portrait. The combination of formula and physical challenge are common to each of Lloyd’s projects, including North South Divide (2008), in which he identifies all the Greggs (North) and Starbucks (South) outlets within a mile radius and then obligates himself to consume a sausage roll or espresso, respectively, at each of these. Each has the effect of pushing the artist to the physiological limits of consumption, again drawing attention to Western culture’s particular brand of conspicuous consumption.

The work addresses the current economic instability by highlighting how this system relies on a culture of cheaply made disposable goods, rather that things made well and made to last. The charity shop being a High Street form of the tat stall, that gives us the opportunity to imagine how we might alter, renovate and create anew from the old and discarded.

Lloyd’s deadpan sense of humor reminds us of the joke made of the Oxfam shop for years, for the middle classes a place to find an outlandish fancy dress outfit or a comic gift, yet in the midst of the economic crisis it becomes a more feasible answer to our clothing needs than high street brands. But at the same time a trip to Primark could leave you with more change in your pocket than the equivalent shopping experience at the charity shop. So we are left with a choice that threatens to undermine the seductive power of the new in favor of the more sustainable ethic of reusing and recycling.

Re is a dry joke but with a cutting social critique of our own conspicuous consumption and waste.

Text by Claire Rousell

Iain Harker

May 26, 2009

Iain Harker Food Front

Iain Harker’s series ‘The Food Front’ present a fully-formed fictional domestic landscape, set in an imagined future. His photographs are constructed scenarios, and collectively they recall the science-fiction narratives of cinema and novels, in part. He gives shape to a post-apocalyptic scenario, where the causes of the changes to the means of production are unclear. What is wholly clear, however, is that in this fantastic world, whilst industry seems to continue, agriculture has been decimated. In the photographer’s words, “I have created a world where the everyday man is forced to look back at traditional cultivation techniques in order to evolve and apply them to an urban dystopia. Harker’s contribution to the iconography of future dystopias is, however, highly unusual. Unlike the high drama of recent cinematic productions like ‘28 Days Later’ or ‘Children of Men’, or the literary models provided by Philip K Dick or JG Ballard, there are no epic or heroic elements here; no cataclysmic events; no novel technologies. There is just the day-to-day prosaic business of ensuring one’s personal stock of food in adverse circumstances, using unexpected means. Harker’s situations record ordinary, domestic, situations in which the requirements of survival have caused strange additions to our present repertoire of domestic objects. As the photographer notes, “I want the viewer to think they’ve witnessed a secret event, or have just walked in on something they shouldn’t have.” The impression is of works which are one part tableux and one part ‘seen through a keyhole’, to use Edgar Degas’ words. They are both “heavily constructed” but “staged in a real environment” and “believable”, to use Harker’s. The tone, accordingly, is one where cheerful domestic ordinariness is scarcely interrupted by “sinister” and incongruous elements. This tone reflects the fact the images originated from Harker’s interest in both global food production and in the use of allotment spaces locally. His series links wider issues that affect us all, with speculation about how we would individually respond to a thoroughly plausible future crisis.

Exhibition Flyer

May 26, 2009

SOTU Flyer Front

SOTU Flyer Back

the beginning

April 14, 2009

After a spiffing night of getting ideas and this lil blog on the go, the SOTU chaps, as it turns out; are having fits of laughter and critical art talk over leatherette pizza.

Brand new drawing work to be made by Steven following the Jerwood Drawing Prize public artwork / workshops at Durham Light infantry Art Gallery in May and a splendid encounter with the healing qualities of helvetica to help the SOTU members decide on a work-in-progress design for the logo.

Good vibrations!