The second annual winner of Northumbria University’s Warwick Stafford Fellowship announced that he wanted to make a film. You can see how that might have baffled a selection panel with an art gallery rather than a cinema at its disposal.
But the end product of 12 months of artistic endeavour can now be seen and appreciated at Gallery North, located in the Squires Building on Northumbria University’s Sandyford Road campus.
The film is In Hinterland and it is the main focal point in an exhibition simply called Luke McCreadie which relates to the process of film-making and the thinking behind it.
Charles Danby, senior lecturer in fine art, sets the scene, explaining: “Luke was aware of all the problematic aspects of film-making in terms of budgets and technology but as an artist he doesn’t have to be a film-maker in a conventional sense. It enabled him to work around the edges a bit.
“The preface to the work, which gives an insight into all of this, is what Luke would describe as a glacial apocalypse.
“Normally when you think of an apocalypse it’s instantaneous but Luke’s conception of a glacial apocalypse is that it’s slowed down so that it takes hundreds of years so you hardly notice.”
McCreadie went ‘on location’ to the Northumberland village of Allenheads and found a local cast, a father and twin boys, to star in his film. It was shot at Allenheads Contemporary Arts and it lasts an hour and 20 minutes, although I’m told it’s OK to dip in and out (not the advice you get at a multiplex).
The film, which you can view standing or from a cushion, shows the father sifting through rubble like a miner or an archaeologist.
What he finds, rather than gemstones or fossils, are relics of a past artistic civilisation – snippets of Henry Moore and others. I am reminded of The Planet of the Apes where the Statue of Liberty pokes through supposedly alien sand.
The exhibition features the film, the set, the props and retro cine-film projections onto the walls, one showing the artist and his partner strolling around wearing surreal headgear (inspired, I am told, by relics in museums in America and Japan where McCreadie ventured during his fellowship year).
The fellowship offers valuable support to what they call an early career fine artist, including a £20,000 bursary, a studio and this exhibition.
McCreadie, who studied at the Slade School of Fine Art, says it “has handed me the opportunity to work full time in the studio, it has allowed me to run my practice with a clear head and with a bursary which has enabled me to make things happen”.
It has been “a learning curve”.
For the viewer, his exhibition is an invitation to embark on a journey of discovery (and there’s a book too). This film-making artist could be the next Steve McQueen. “That would be nice,” laughs Charles Danby.
The exhibition is open until Friday. Check www.gn.northumbria.ac.uk