Pieces of Eight combines British heavy metal and Italian opera via Gothenburg and Finland

By Ben Miller | 01 May 2012
A photo of a set of multicoloured stones against a light blue background
Exhibition: Pieces of Eight, Project Space Leeds, Leeds, until June 30 2012

Not many shows can link the headbanging heavy metal of industrial post-war Birmingham with singers in Spoleto, an Italian town revered for its opera.

A photo of a sculpture made to look like a curvy red handbag
Ian Balch's Handbag
But perhaps it’s testimony to the distinct international flavour of this collaborative project, headed by a quartet of University of Leeds PhD students who have also headed to Gothenburg University and the Finnish Academy of Arts, that they’ve achieved just that.

Bringing back fond memories of the ethos of the Home of Metal celebration in Brum last year, artist, writer and musician Andy Abbott’s video, Early Metal Bell Pits, explores the connections between the mining and steel industries in the second city.

Classical muso Sam Belinfante (recently seen at the Hayward Gallery and Middlesborough Institute of Modern Art) has mirrored the local caves and open mouths of singers in Spoleto for his video, Many Chambers, Many Mouths.

Of the other returnees from Scandinavia, there’s a large-scale wall drawing condensing an entire Tintin comic into one layered piece (the work of Eirini Boukla) and Hui-Hsuan Hsu’s extreme close-ups of blank pages and crumpled magazine.

A photo of an upright rectangular sculpture featuring tiny silver, red and yellow squares
Annica Karlsson Rixon
They’re accompanied by Ian Balch (transformative sculptures revitalising everyday objects) and four Nordic artists offering intricately-painted paper stones, pebbles, leaves, a documentation of an abandoned Gothenburg home symbolising mid-20th century Swedish cultural changes and a large-scale photographic and video installation inspired by the power of the pun.

This is also the swan song for Project Space Leeds at the contemporary visual arts group’s Waterfront venue. As they prepare to leave their home of five years ahead of a switch to the former Tetley’s headquarters in 2013, co-director Kerry Harker says Pieces of Eight is a “perfect fit” for the finale.

“Project Space has become known for supporting mid-career artists and young artists’ practice,” she reflects.

“Pieces of Eight gives audiences the chance to see some outstanding work that has been in research by artists from Leeds, Gothenburg and Helsinki in recent years, without having to leave Leeds waterfront.”

  • Open Wednesday-Saturday 12-5pm. Admission free.
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