Michael Shaw 2019 – 21

In 2019 Michael Shaw became Wirksworth Festival’s very first artist-in-residence, he presented a small exhibition of his work in St Mary’s Church in 2019 and will present his major exhibition as artist-in-residence for the Festival in 2021.

A sculptor based in Loughborough in the East Midlands with a studio at Eagle Works in Nottingham, Michael makes site-specific responses to architecture and museum collections with brightly coloured, large-scale inflatable sculptures. His inflatables seek to synthesise sculpture and architecture through their direct physical interactions, the buildings that house his inflatables are used as a mould that forms and informs the geometry of the sculptures.

Talking about his work, Michael says,

“as the inflatable sculptures have increased in size, they have increasingly challenged the architecture of their hosts. Often viewers can see another part of the building but have to walk all around the sculpture to get there. So, they are disruptive to the possibilities of movement, and yet displacement is minimal because well over 99% of their volume comes from the space itself in the form of air… their bright colour is important, as it usually bathes the surroundings with a luminous hue.”

This is what excited us about his work and why we chose Michael to be our inaugural artist-in-residence, how would he respond to Wirksworth and in particular, its Grade 1 listed building, St Mary’s Church with its features dating back to the Anglo-Saxon period?

Carol Taylor, the Festival Chair said,

“we were particularly intrigued when we read Michael Shaw’s application to be artist-in-residence when he talked about spending his time in Wirksworth charting our industrial heritage, seeking to create wide-ranging responses to the area’s lost industries.”

Michael explained he was,

“…inspired by the tales of local rivers running white when the rains washed away the covering of dust from quarry blasts,  I would seek to create more expansive responses to the lsot industries through unexpected materials and techniques.” and “[I] fully anticipate delivering an exciting and informative exhibition for the Festival.”

Curator of our ‘Made in Wirksworth’ exhibition (2019) and artist-in-residence selection panellist, Denis O’Connor said,

“Mike Shaw’s response to the first artists residency for the Wirksworth Festival was both engaging, challenging, dynamic and professional, as a contemporary practitioner he brought a unique approach to the residency through his creative work ethic. Key to this was his engagement through research with community members and individuals, which will have defined in part the work he’ll make and exhibit as the end outcome for the residency in 2021.”

Over twenty years, Michael has been part of many solo exhibitions in the UK, group shows around the world and has received numerous public commissions, he is also Curator of Exhibitions at Burghley House Sculpture Garden in Stamford, Lincolnshire. In September 2019, Michael Shaw had a major exhibition in Leeds, INF23 which sat in Left Bank, the former church. It was 26m long, used around 600m of fabric and the piece could have spanned nearly six buses.

The Lodge Project is funded by the Ampersand Trust and aims to give an established, UK-based artist 3-months of dedicated and funded studio time in Wirksworth to develop new directions in their work with an emphasis on life in and around the locality of the Festival, read more about the artist-in-residence programme here.

See more of Michael’s work on his website.

Photograph of Michael Shaw at Left Bank Installation by Hamish Irvine.

Michael Shaw 2019 – 21