Kieren Reed / Sparrow + Castice Opening Event Saturday 10th August 2013

KIEREN REED Social Sculpture
SPARROW + CASTICE Billboard Structure 2 with A Symbol and an Object

Opening event Saturday 10th August 2013 12 – 6pm. All welcome.
Down Stairs at Great Brampton House, Madley, Herefordshire, HR2 9NA


Down Stairs is proud to present new semi-permanent works located in the grounds of Great Brampton House. These pieces mark a turning point for Down Stairs and a new direction for the artist-run project and its associated residency programme.

Social Sculpture by Kieren Reed explores the very nature of functionality, use value and social architecture, addressing notions of collaboration and relational art practice. Social Sculpture visually embodies the vernacular architecture of Whitstable Harbour, the Grade II listed site where the work was first exhibited for the 2012 Biennale. In this incarnation it will be adapted to serve as residential accommodation for visiting artists on part of Down Stairs’ residency programme.

Reed’s practice is concerned with the placement of sculpture in the landscape and how this can inform and question functionality and audience participation. Social Sculpture is about the conceptual space between form and functionality. As Wittgenstein wrote, ‘The meaning is the use’. The work needs both to act in real terms as usable architecture and simultaneously function aesthetically as sculpture. It only really becomes an artwork when its use value – that of a space/location – is activated.

Sparrow + Castice have created two new works for Down Stairs. The first of these, Billboard Structure 2, is simply that: the second collapsible, interchangeable billboard structure they have created, this one specifically for exhibition outdoors. A Symbol and an Object, is the first message to be shown on the structure. While the billboard will remain in situ for an indefinite period of time, the message which it supports will be changed at irregular intervals by Sparrow + Castice, whom also invite Down Stairs to create their own messages to display during its stay at Great Brampton House. The intent of the messages will oscillate between being irreverent, informative and instructional.

Both these pieces mark an important turning point for Down Stairs. Established early in 2011 by artists Craig Barnes and Dmitri Galitzine, it, and they, took residency at Great Brampton House in Herefordshire at the behest of entrepreneur Martin Miller.

Down Stairs offers a hugely diverse visual arts experience to the local community and visitors from further afield, supporting contemporary artists from a variety of backgrounds, across all media. Supporting artists at the early stages of their career, it is committed to showing emerging artists shoulder to shoulder with established names.

Recently listed in the Hot 100 artist led initiatives published in A-N that aims to draw attention to some of the most superb activity being facilitated by emerging independent artists and curators right now in the UK. The full list can be found here:

Over two years Barnes and Galitzine have mounted an ambitious programme of exhibitions and events in the ten rooms of gallery space at Great Brampton House, as well as developing a studio and workshop complex in an old stable block for their own use and that of visiting resident or exhibiting artists.

Exhibitions to date include Change The World Or Go Home, which questioned the role of the artist within contemporary culture; Heartlands, which united artists interested in the countryside and its relationship with British national identity; and The Stone of Folly, which used local Neolithic burial site Arthur’s Stone as the basis for exploring ideas around local folklore and forgotten histories.

Artists exhibited to date include Alice Anderson, William Cobbing, Katie Cuddon, Jeremy Deller, Sean Dower, Benedict Drew, Cathy Lomax, Heather Phillipson, Nicholas Pope, Jimmy Merris, Mark McGowan, Simon Roberts, Mark Titchner, Susan Stockwell Gavin Turk, Sarah Woodfine and Hennessy Youngman amoungst many others.

At the beginning of 2013, finding themselves at both a personal and funding crossroads, Barnes and Galizine decided not to continue to run Down Stairs in the manner they had to date, nor pursue funding from the Arts Council as many had advised, instead opting to remodel Down Stairs as a more reflexive organisation not aligned to any funding model, be it private or public.

With the blessing of Martin Miller to remain on site at Great Brampton House, Down Stairs is interested in focusing it’s work around its residency programme and broader ways to engage with an audience.

Using Kieren Reed’s work Social Sculpture as its new hub for it’s residency, it aims to provide a platform for both the creation and experience of ambitious contemporary critical practice on a much needed regional level, whilst seeking to align its aims and dialogues with similar peers on a national and international level. Forthcoming residents include Elliott Burns and Jonny Briggs.

Down Stairs is also interested in pursuing alternative ways to engage with the audience within the physical region of Herefordshire and surrounding areas which it has established since its inception. Sparrow + Castice’s works, to be located on the lawn of Great Brampton House in view of the adjacent road, illustrate this intent. It aims to capture not only an existent audience, but also those whom would not have visited work on view in one of the gallery spaces. The road is travelled hourly by the bus route 449 Monday – Saturday, and the 39A on Sundays.

Image, left: Kieren Reed, Social Sculpture proposal. Right: Sparrow + Castice: Billboard Structure 1 with A Symbol and an Object. 

Kieren Reed
Sparrow + Castice
Down Stairs
Craig Barnes
Dmitri Galitzine
Martin Miller
Great Brampton House
Elliott Burns
Jonny Briggs

The works of Kieren Reed and Sparrow + Castice featured at Down Stairs have been generously supported through the Arts Council’s Grants For The Arts funding programme.



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