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Middlesbrough Collection: Soft Structures

Tue – Sat 10am – 4.30pm; Sun 12 – 4pm

MIMA (Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art)

Soft Structures reflects on the invisible threads and undocumented connections that underpin creative lives and communities. Through drawing, painting, video, installation, textile and ceramics, the exhibition presents newly commissioned artwork by Fiona Larkin and Ian Giles and pieces from the Middlesbrough Collection cared for by MIMA.

New audio, installation and drawings by Ian Giles, A Reflection in Time, draw together LGBTQ+ individuals who have influenced the buildings, industries and communities of Middlesbrough. Through collaboration and speculative storytelling, Giles unveils the hidden histories and untold stories intertwined with the town’s cultural and industrial past.

In 2021, MIMA and the Women Artists of the North East Library invited artist Fiona Larkin to respond to the events and circumstances behind the artwork and archives held in the Middlesbrough Collection and in the Women Artists of the North East Library. Larkin’s resulting installation, videos and paintings employ empathy and intuition to reflect on the paintings of Ethel Guymer (c.1894–date unknown), an important member of the Cleveland Sketching Club.

A display of ceramic pieces highlights the personal, professional and peer relationships woven through the collection. Developed through workshops, a third new commission Until the End of the World, initiated by Sarah Perks and Paul Stewart, will be presented in 2024. The project invites publics to articulate the dreams of the collection and visualise them using machine learning, with a resulting AI-generated film offering an alternative view on the Middlesbrough Collection.

Selected works

Angus Suttie, Cup and Stand, 1988. Stoneware

Alison Britton, Jug, 1985. Earthenware.

Fiona Larkin, 'Hands-clasped over knees bent', 2022. Single channel video, colour, sound.

Fiona Larkin, 'Hands-clasped over knees bent', 2022. Single channel video, colour, sound.

Ian Giles, 'A Reflection in Time'