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Featuring Turner Prize winner Grayson Perry, this exciting exhibition is an artistic collaboration between visual artists and a skilled digital embroidery technician who has translated and transformed a series of original artworks into a collection of digitally embroidered artefacts.  Exploring the relationship between the artist and the technician, Closely Held Secrets reveals the nature of the hidden dialogue between the originator of an idea and the agent of interpretation, pushing the boundaries and applications for digital embroidery.


Tony Taylor (embroidery), Grayson Perry, Simon Beck Mather, Craig Fisher, Charlotte Hodes, Geoff Diego Litherland, Danica Maier, Derek Sprawson, Katherine Townsend and Stella Whalley.

This exhibition is taking place in affiliation with Sideshow 2010.

Returns formed part of an on-going collaboration between Nottingham Trent University and Sheffield Hallam University (SHU). Established in 2012, it developed out of an International Research Project titled Topographies of the Obsolete, set up by Bergen Academy of Art and Design, Norway; and focused on the disused ceramics factory in Stoke-on-Trent, Spode Works.

The aim of the research was to deepen and develop our understanding of the post-industrial landscape with specific reference to the industrial ruin. Through a series of residencies and workshops, a cross-disciplinary group of artists and researchers from a range of international art institutions set out to explore the socio-economic histories, industrial architecture and production remains of the former Spode Works The results of the research were exhibited and published during the British Ceramics Biennial in September 2013 and Seconds, in the Lace Market Gallery in March 2014.

The exhibition at Bonington Gallery was the first showing of the newly generated outcomes, with a subsequent exhibition taking place at Sheffield Hallam SIA Gallery in Winter 2016. Each exhibition showed a new development from the work previously exhibited, demonstrating the progression of the research.

The exhibition brought together artistic research from NTU:
Andrew Brown, Joanne Lee, Danica Maier, Debra Swann, and Chloë Brown from SHU.

Recent fine art graduates who participated in the original Spode project were in residence during the exhibition, from NTU:
Ciaran Harrington, and Christine Stevens.

Discussion Workshops

Throughout the Returns exhibition, researchers from the project led a series of discussion workshops. Each session was intended for a small group of invited speakers and participants who considered a specific area emerging from the concerns uncovered in Returns’ research through practice.

The discussions took the form of presentations, group conversations and practical activities. Their aim was to bring together professionals and practitioners to reflect upon three particular points of focus:

Digging through Dirt: Archaeology past, present, precious and unwanted 
Wednesday 11 February,  1 pm – 2.15 pm

Artists will have your Ruin: Regeneration through the arts 
Wednesday 18 February,  1 pm – 2.15 pm

Ruins of Craft: Lost art of making 
Wednesday 25 February,  1 pm – 2.15 pm

Exhibition resources:

From Our Blog

Drawing is said to have the ability to record both its own making and the movement of the thoughts and body of the drawer.

Bringing together the work of several artists with differing practices Drawology aimed to consider whether this premise is applicable to a specific process or genre of drawing or whether it is applicable to drawing generally.

The works in the exhibition represented an expanded field of contemporary drawing in a Fine Art context to include: works on paper, performance, moving image, installation, projections and three-dimensional drawings. The exhibition was part of a larger research project being undertaken by Deborah Harty entitled ‘Drawing is phenomenology’.

Artists include:

Shaun Belcher, Sian Bowen, Rachael Colley, David Connearn, Paul Fieldsend-Danks, Maryclare Foa, Paul Gough, Joe Graham, Deborah Harty, Claude Heath, humhyphenhum, Juliet MacDonald, Jordan McKenzie, Lucy O’Donnell, Bill Prosser, Karen Wallis, Martin Lewis, Patricia Cain, Simón Granell, humhyphenhumha, David Connearn, Andrew Pepper

In Residence

During the exhibition, the gallery hosted several “in residence” sessions, based on Traci Kelly’s model for interactive research for From Where I Stand I Can See You.

Wednesday 27 November 10.30 am – 1.30 pm:
Professor Marsha Meskimmon
, Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art History and Theory at Loughborough University

Wednesday 27 November 1 pm – 5 pm:
Danica Maier
, Senior Lecturer Fine Art at Nottingham Trent University

Thursday 5 December 11 am – 2 pm & 3 pm – 5 pm:
Dr Kevin Love
, Senior Lecturer in Philosophy and Social Theory at Nottingham Trent University

Drawing is

Alongside Drawology the Gallery also hosted a student-led exhibition challenging the notion of drawing in contemporary art. 

Read more about Drawing is.