Running from 20th May to 30th June, the FREE-to-enter exhibition will be held every Wednesday-Sunday from 11am-5pm at the previous H&M store within Grosvenor Shopping Centre in Chester, in a newly remodeled space that offers an immersive gallery environment in the heart of the city.
The exhibition, commissioned by Chester Visual Arts and funded by Arts Council England, presents the latest works of Roberts - a celebrated visual artist known for his breath-taking tableaux images that touch on prevalent and contentious topics - allowing audiences to explore diverse and complex ideas as it taps into social and economic issues, acting as a catalyst for important conversations.
Simon Roberts (b.1974) is a visual artist based in Brighton, UK. Widely recognised for his large-format, tableaux photographs of the British landscape, his practice also encompasses video, text and installation work, which together, interrogate notions of identity and belonging, and the complex relationship between history, place, and culture.
He has exhibited widely, and his photographs reside in major public and private collections, including the George Eastman House, Deutsche Börse Art Collection and Victoria & Albert Museum. In 2010 he was appointed the official British Election Artist by the House of Commons Works of Art Committee to produce a visual record of the General Election on behalf of the UK Parliamentary Art Collection; and in 2014 he represented Britain during the UK-Russia Year of Culture. He has been commissioned to make several large-scale public artworks and recognised with numerous awards including an Honorary Fellowship to the Royal Photographic Society, the Vic Odden Award, and grants from Arts Council England and the John Kobal Foundation.
Author of several critically acclaimed monographs including Motherland (Chris Boot, 2007), We English (Chris Boot, 2009), Pierdom (Dewi Lewis Publishing, 2013) and Merrie Albion – Landscape Studies of a Small Island (Dewi Lewis Publishing, 2017), his work has also been profiled and published widely including in the New Yorker, Granta, National Geographic, ArtForum, Wallpaper, amongst others.
Roberts holds a first-class BA Hons in Cultural Geography from The University of Sheffield and is a regular public speaker. He is currently a Visiting Research Fellow at University of Cumbria – Institute of the Arts.
Composed of two parts; 'How did we get here?' showcases various photographic and video works spanning the past 15 years of Roberts's career; exploring identity, belonging and the complex relationship between history, place, and culture. The second part, 'Where do we go now?' allows visitors to participate in a series of workshops and open sessions where they are given a unique opportunity to respond creatively to the current social climate, culminating in a new artwork (The Public Gallery), that will develop over the course of the exhibition.
Roberts' says “From exposing our post-imperial predicament, the complications of New Commonwealth immigration, and the Brexit schism, to the possibilities of UK devolution and the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, the works displayed over two floors offer a commentary on the social and political issues that we currently face in our daily lives, whilst questioning the choices that have led us to where we are today. Together with the public's intervention, I hope the two elements of the exhibition will act as a stimulus for open discussion about the function of the British High Street as the future use of urban spaces is increasingly debated.”
'How did we get here? / Where do we go now?' offers a unique opportunity for locals and visitors alike to experience a thought-provoking exhibition, curated to attract art lovers from the region and the UK, whilst also bringing art to an audience who might not normally step into a typical museum or gallery setting.
Dr Cathy Pütz, Chester Visual Arts board member says “The cultural and social value of art cannot be overstated. Art has the power to inspire, challenge, and provoke thought, and it can have a lasting impact on individuals and communities. Simon Roberts is widely regarded as one of the most talented and innovative photographers of his generation. His works capture the lure and complexity of the British landscape, highlighting its diversity and richness, as well as its social and political dimensions”.
Art Council England's "Shaping the Next 10 Years" recognises the crucial role that art and community play in shaping a brighter future by 2023. By investing in the arts and supporting artists, communities can create more vibrant and resilient spaces. In doing so, they can build a stronger sense of identity and belonging, promote diversity and inclusion, and create economic opportunities that benefit everyone.
Launched in 2016, local art charity, Chester Visual Arts set a clear vision to bring world-class art to Chester, positioning the city and wider region as a leading cultural destination, creating a better place to live, work and visit. This exhibition is the 5th show that CVA has brought to the city, which has provided refreshing art and discussions to the public and attracted over 50k visitors to date.
'How did we get here? Where do we go now?' promises to be an unmissable event for art lovers and anyone interested in exploring the current state of society. Don't miss this opportunity to see Simon Roberts' latest works, gain a fresh perspective on the world we live in, and contribute to the public art piece, a space for your voice to be heard.
How did we get here? / Where do we go now?' by Simon Roberts
20th May to 30th June
Grosvenor Shopping Centre
3-10 Newgate St, Chester CH1 1EA
(Previously H&M store)
The exhibition will be FREE to enter, although the public is encouraged to cover the minimum suggested donation.
To keep up with the latest information on the event, visit https://www.chestervisualarts.org.uk/, and subscribe to the newsletter for advanced notice of tickets. Chester cultural event