April 19, 2018 @ 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Floor 2. 26 North Road
DH1 4SG Durham

This is the final show of the 6 month exhibition series at  TESTT Space.

Close To You: An exhibition on intimacy

Preview: 19/04/18, 6-9pm
2nd Floor, 25 North Rd

Exhibition runs until 12/05/18
Open Wed-Sat, 12-4pm

‘Close to You’ brings together bodies of work by six emerging North East-based artists, curated by artist Oliver Doe. The work focuses on readings of intimacy and familiarity through a wide range of personal lenses, considering issues from family, through sexuality, to space & time. With a diverse range of artists and practices, including painting, installation, digital media and interactive sculpture, the exhibition promotes a wide array of viewpoints and ideas around intimacy and closeness in a time of increasing unfamiliarity and distance.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a creative publication by Lauren Vevers and Adam Heardman.

Creating spaces is the main focus of Jenny Alderson’s practice, taking the shape of material installations that the viewer can navigate and experience, activating them through movement. Her exploration of borders is extended to language, as Jenny investigates the meanings and limitations of words such as ‘curtain’ and ‘barrier’ through methods of display, interaction and activation.

Oliver Doe’s transmedia practice examines queer visibility, using abstraction to explore understandings of queer sexuality and intimacy. Intertwined, intimate and desire-filled bodies are reduced to planes within the almost sculptural paintings, but positive and negative spaces become confused, with neither body nor ground clearly defined within the gloss paint and translucent fabric surfaces.

James Ellis-Clark works with a variety of mediums including glass, moving image and performance, examining the borderland between art and craft. Regularly inviting the viewer to consider the human condition, his practice explores temporality, mental health issues and feelings of redundancy. These interests form sensory experiences and works imbued with destructive acts, which may initially be viewed as futile but gradually evolve into a constructive direction.

Juliet Fleming works with sculpture, ceramics and performance, seeking to question the female experience in the 21st century, often using repetitive symbols. These symbols are used to start dialogues around sexual pleasure, bodily autonomy, reproduction and the division of emotional/physical labour. Fleming’s digitally printed fabric wallpaper-like banners investigate key themes of stereotyping, particularly in gender roles and hierarchies within todays society.

Joy Labinjo’s paintings draw on her British-Nigerian heritage and examine the complex relationship between identity, race and culture. Her large-scale canvases are reconfigured from family photo albums, saturated with colours, patterns and people, and dissecting moments of belonging from special occasions and informal snapshots. Labinjo simultaneously connects and uproots personal histories, freeing individuals from a collective narrative to create a new space.

Ellen Welsh’s interdisciplinary practice comprises prints, drawings, text, books and digital media. Aiming to cultivate an intimacy between the artist and viewer through diaristic and introspective writing, her work is concerned with memory, nostalgia, and transience, and often takes ephemeral forms, such as letters, translucent prints, or text messages. She aims to inhabit the serendipitous space that is the intersection between each individual’s private world.


Jenny Alderson (b.1994, Whitley Bay) graduated from Goldsmiths in 2017. She is a member of The Collective Studio graduate programme run in collaboration between The NewBridge Project and Newcastle University. Jenny was shortlisted for the Gillian Dickinson Young Sculptor of the Year Award 2018. Recent exhibitions include Encounter, Ustinov College, Durham; and The Collective Studio, Goldtapped, Newcastle.

Oliver Doe (b.1994, London) is a Newcastle-based artist-curator and writer. Recent exhibitions include First Bowie, Now This, Old Gymnasium, Berwick upon Tweed; Reality Check, The Newbridge Project, Gateshead; You’re Reading Into It, Vane, Newcastle; and Provocations, ICW, Blackpool.

James Ellis-Clark (b.1988, Durham) is a recent graduate of the BxNU MFA programme, having previously studied Glass and Ceramics at the University of Sunderland. Recent exhibitions include They Were Islands, Baltic 39, Newcastle; Opinion, Waddington Street, Durham; and You Know The Rules, Baltic 39, Newcastle.

Juliet Fleming (b.1991, London) graduated from Newcastle University in 2015. She is the co-founder of Goldtapped Gallery, Newcastle, and MILK collective. Recent exhibitions include Something Coquettish, House of Blah Blah, Middlesborough; Strange Pursuit, Vane, Newcastle; and Aftertaste, The Trophy Room, Liverpool.

Joy Labinjo (b.1994, London) studied at Newcastle University, graduating in 2017. She was also awarded the Woon Foundation Art Prize in 2017. Recent exhibitions include Ladies who Lunch, Holy Biscuit, Newcastle; Where do we go from here?, XL Gallery, Newcastle; Belonging, Morley Gallery, London; and Gatherings, Goldtapped, Newcastle.

Ellen Welsh (b.1994, Morpeth) is based in Newcastle and a studio member at The Newbridge Project: Gateshead. She regularly produces zines and prints distributed online via her project Letters To An Island. Recent shows include I Look Better Online, System Gallery, Newcastle; and Wingdings, MILK Gallery, Newcastle.