CIRCA Projects celebrate the NGCA’s 20th anniversary, by looking to the gallery’s origins, as Ceolfrith Gallery & Press and Sunderland Arts Centre – originally simply titled ‘The Bookshop’ (1969).
CIRCA Projects celebrate the NGCA’s 20th anniversary, by looking to the gallery’s origins, as Ceolfrith Gallery & Press and Sunderland Arts Centre – originally simply titled ‘The Bookshop’ (1969). In line with the motivations of the initiator and director of the original bookshop, Chris Carrell’, CIRCA will open a new bookshop at the NGCA, Sunderland:
“stocking a wide range of culture… where as many aspects of contemporary culture could be seen, experienced and enjoyed by the community and presented by artists with national and international reputations…the bookshop is for the encouragement of artists living and working in the borough and the introduction of these artists to the community through readings, publications, exhibitions and lectures.”
– Chris Carrell, ‘A report on the past events, future programme, aims and aspirations of the Ceolfrith Arts Centre (formerly known as the The Bookshop and Bookshop Gallery), 27 Frederick Street, Co. Durham, April 1971.
BOOKSHOP at the NGCA is motivated by a lack of independent bookshops in Sunderland. A curated selection of merchandise, artist-books and periodicals will be available to buy in the shop as well as archival material on view from Ceolfrith Press. BOOKSHOP will also host a live series of events – performances, readings, screenings and workshops on Saturdays to enliven this new space and to encourage an active reading of the books and ideas held here.
BOOKSHOP will also feature a display of archival materials showcasing the work Ceolfrith Press – a printing press which ran out of the bookshop, producing artist monographs, poetry books and exhibition catalogues. In connection to this CIRCA Projects will invite Foundation Press, a risograph printing press based within University of Sunderland’s Foundation Art & Design Programme, to assist in the production of a number of new artist’s zines and books on-site beginning on Saturday 5 December.
About ‘The Bookshop’, Ceolfrith Gallery and Press and Sunderland Arts Centre:
Originating as ‘The Bookshop’ on Frederick Street, Sunderland, founder Chris Carrell then began to publish and exhibit works by setting up Ceolfrith Gallery & Press. The Bookshop/Ceolfrith Bookshop Gallery & Press (1969) explored the authorial shift from artist to audience through self-publishing visual scores, conceptual writing and poetry, producing overlaps therein. It published and exhibited work by: Bob Cobbing & Writer’s Forum, Henry Chopin, Dennis Oppenheim, Andre Breton, Dom Sylvester Houédard, Raoul Hausmann, Robin Crozier, Ian Hamilton Finlay and Jack Smith.
The visual poetry of artists working with The Bookshop and Ceolfrith, like Cobbing, Houedard and Hamilton-Finlay, moved authorship to the reader, encouraged the audience to read, adapt and claim the artworks as their own. Performances, readings, exhibitions and other events in The Bookshop and Ceolfrith reached out to the local audience, asking them to engage with art and books directly.
This interest in trying to establish a wider audience for the arts and a multi-disciplinary approach at The Bookshop and Ceolfrith, saw the development of Sunderland Arts Centre (1971) becoming one of several Arts Centres established throughout the UK at this time. The Arts Centre worked across disciplines with social clubs in Sunderland, writing, theatre, classical, film, folk and contemporary music groups, and even with Sunderland Football club. Chris Carrell, the founding director, after establishing Sunderland Arts Centre, moved to Glasgow to become the second director of The Third Eye Centre (now the Centre for Contemporary Art, Glasgow).