Halfway to Russia and other Eastbound Horizons
GoCart Gallery (SE) comes to Harrington Mill Studios, Nottingham

26th June - 17th July 2011

The concept of the Swedish leg of the exchange between Gotland, Sweden and Nottingham, UK took shape from the specific architectural ‘L – shape of the Harrington Mill exhibition space, an old industrial complex transformed into artists studios.

Also included in the genesis of the idea were three instructions to make it easier to involve members of the GoCart Gallery Association, based on the island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea. Firstly each artist was asked to interpret a theme of ‘the Sea’.

Secondly artworks should stay away from the white walls and be hung from the ceiling to create a narrative vision of being in, or under, water level.

The third resulted from the logistics – as there was no external funding for the exchange all works needed to be produced with lightweight materials for easy transportation.

Within these restrictions around thirty artists, young and old and from different artistic styles and expressions, agreed to unite in a single visual concept and have produced specific works to form a collective installation for the first time in the history of the Association.

The Sea has often inspired fairy tales and myths of hidden secrets and mysteries that dwell in the depths. Water and other words related to the Sea have more disparate interpretations today than ever before. Way back into history fishermen and salesmen fought over the biggest catches of Cod. Nowadays the word Tsunami has a huge impact on people. Gotland was raised up as a coral reef, out of a warm tropical sea, over four million years ago. We realize that no human has ever seen a tsunami in the Baltic Sea despite living on the edgy former borderline between the two socio-economic systems of the East and West. The island was historically heavily armed and is still, today, pierced with abandoned bunkers and tunnels. Our land and beliefs had to be defended against the Red Flag of the Communists.

On the other hand, what links the island together with the Scandinavian sub-continent are the huge ferries that fill the gap of the missing motorway crossing. Sometimes bad weather stops journeys, and the inhabitants, like Robinson Crusoe, have to maintain their serenity and remain on the island. The waters have been polluted with fertilizers and nitrogen from Swedish agriculture. Now another threat is coming from the former East. Dead animal bodies are leaching their flesh and even their souls into the rivers and watercourses that, in the end, reach open seas. The Baltic Sea is very nearly a dead sea half suffocated by algae.

The exhibition ‘Halfway To Russia And Other Eastbound Horizons’ is part of the newly started Lifeboat project of the GoCart Gallery (the Contemporary Art Gallery of Gotland). The first group show as part of this project took place at the international artist-run Supermarket Art Fair in the Kulturhuset in Stockholm in February this year. The Lifeboat project defines itself as already described and additionally views Art today as both witness to, and scientific proof helping people combat the diseases of contemporary society. It sees Art as a lifeboat in the global economic and cultural community.

The initial contacts for the exchange took place during the previous year’s Supermarket Art Fair in February 2010. By coincidence, members from both organizations met and through discussion arrived at this collaborative exchange that we are very pleased to see taking place this summer. Swedish artists are coming to Nottingham in June and Harrington Mill artists visit Gotland, Sweden in August.

We warmly welcome you to this first leg of the collaboration!

Exhibition concept and Gotland Text :
Torbjörn Lime
(Artist, GoCart Gallery committee boad member and Director of the Gotland School of Art)