One thousand artists from 100 countries gather for World Event Young Artist 2012

By Ruth Hazard | 11 September 2012
Young artists from 100 nations will be taking part in WEYA events for the next week© Anthony Hopwood
Festival Review: World Event Young Artist Festival, various venues, Nottingham, until September 16 2012

If you’re in Nottingham for the World Event Young Artist festival, then the prospect of trying to see all 1,000 exhibiting artists can seem a little daunting.

But don’t let this deter you. Instead throw caution to the wind, ditch an overly zealous itinerary and take a serendipitous approach to your festival experience.

The amount to see is staggering, both in terms of range and volume, as the organising committee have spent two years carefully co-ordinating the event, making sure there’s representation from across artistic disciplines and geographical locations.

As a result, you can expect to see Chinese silk paintings nestled among photographic prints capturing life in Bangladesh, mixed media artwork representing ceremonial dance costumes from Namibia and video installations by an artists' collective from Spain.

The choice of settings is similarly ambitious, with 30 different creative spaces offering events and exhibitions.

Gonzo Unit offers one of the most unusual settings of the festival, exhibiting Spanish, Japanese and Philippine artists around the hubbub of a working barber shop.

As patrons get their hair trimmed, you can enjoy Alejandro Alonso de Noriega’s captivating video projection and Memory sculpture, The Big Dinner, which looks at the relationship of the body with its environment.

Surface Gallery’s offering is a mix of both the strange and the sublime. While a Chinese-born, internationally based artist grapples with reclaiming her cultural heritage, her Italian counterpart presents a sculpture made entirely from human hair. The gothic fantasy photographs by Carmen Rubio Ortells are also a must see.

The largest and most inclusive selection of WEYA art is housed at Nottingham Trent’s Bonington campus, with 42 exhibitors being shown in the same space.

Cast iron lego sculptures, textiles suspended in mid-air, modest pencil sketches, 3D wall art and experimental film loops mean if you only visit one venue then this should be it.

But WEYA is more than just a city-wide scattering of exhibitions: it is a way of bringing together young creatives from all around the world to meet, collaborate and show off their work.

In the festival’s opening address, speakers encouraged them to “be each other’s audiences” and laid the gauntlet for each artist to network with a further ten from different countries.

Taking in the festival is a chance to see this process in action. A live painting demonstration over the opening weekend resulted in a heated discussion between various WEYA contributors over the ethics of using plastic in art production, while the Bonington display was rife with artists swapping business cards and exchanging ideas.

Despite the scale of the festival, World Event Young Artists is still a relatively low-key affair. This is the first event of its kind and it hasn’t yet established the sort of reputation that draws the crowds to other city festival events.

Regardless, WEYA is a great opportunity to see the incredible range of work being created by the upcoming generation of artists and a glimmer of what we can expect from the future of contemporary art.

Follow Ruth Hazard on Twitter.

More pictures:

Thai artist Rook Floro is exhibiting his mixed sculpture and performance piece, Shadow, at Lakeside Arts Centre© Rook Floro
Emily Moya Addis' surreal narrative photographs, such as Social Canteen, can be seen at the festival© Emily Moya Addis

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