ADAM AND GILLIAN

Foundation

THE PERFORMANCE

4000 bricks are arranged on the floor of the space. They are about five bricks in depth.

Gillian picks up a brick and moves to the centre of the room. She places it down, beginning a process that when repeated 4000 times will create a geometric tower just over two meters high.

The bricks are stacked without cement. Like a dry stone wall. Their arrangement keeps them steady.

As Gillian builds the tower she repeatedly has to walk up it, climbing higher each time.

When the last brick is placed, completing the sculpture, Gillian will stand upon the top of the tower and reach up to find a dangling light switch that when pulled turns on a single bulb that illuminates the sculpture from above.

LEGACY

It is important to us that the legacy of this piece is physical. That is why we plan to donate the bricks to local building projects so that they can be incorporated into the very fabric of the town.

We would like to document this process too, listing all the ways in which those bricks go on to have an extended life past the performance.

We intend to create a documentary film alongside the work, detailing the piece, and also following the bricks on their life after the performance, for example home improvement or garden walls.

CASE STUDY

We are stood in The Wild Plant Shop, in Norton. We are chatting about what we do, and we end up talking about bricks. It transpires the shop is run by a family, a mother and two daughters. We are talking to the mother, Jayne.

She tells us that one of her daughters, Jenni, has a brick. A brick she took from a demolition site -- The Northern School of Art campus, on Green Lane, which was demolished in 2022 to make way, possibly for a Lidl.

Jenni studied there and was heartbroken that they were demolishing a building she had so many fond memories of, and so took a memento. Actually, she made Jayne drive there in the middle of the night to help her get one.

That brick is a touchstone for her memories and her relationship with that place.

HERE AND NOW

Stockton is undergoing a period of tremendous transformation. The old high street is being demolished. A new space is being made for the public to enjoy.

Right now is the time to make the case for how that space is implemented. It's the time to talk about what we need from our buildings and spaces. Foundation aims to work as a focal point for these discussions with an aim to shape the future of Stockton.

ENGAGEMENT

Through their art, they have consistently demonstrated an unparalleled ability to bring people together, fostering a sense of connection and shared identity.

Their adeptness in connecting with people and the time they take to truly get to know a community creates strong and meaningful connections, which, not only creates a more engaging artistic performance, but has also fostered new connections amongst the communities they work with.

I can confidently state that their artistic contributions are invaluable and relevant to the ongoing transformations of Stockton, enriching the lives of the communities they work with and complimenting the cultural landscape of the town.

Bobbie Bailey, PhD Researcher & Freelance Placemaking Consultant

We are hesitant to define ‘engagement’, but we are very invested in trying to genuinely situate the work and our process in Stockton. This means being there, talking to people and working with them rather than just presenting at them.

Gillian and Adam’s work has been very rewarding to our clients and to us as an organisation. They have challenged us on how we think about comprehension and interpretation of the world we see.

… weeks later the group member was trying to communicate something to his carer who did not understand what he wanted (this is common) I could see he was showing how to put a round object on the floor, I said is this the place we went to the other week? He said yes, and for a few moments we chatted about all to compasses and the patterns.

Gayle Walker, Teesside Dementia Link Services

We want to work alongside the staff of ARC. We want to be useful, and an extra resource. We want to contribute to an organisation that has supported us in our work, by supporting them in theirs. Importantly, we want the staff to feel a sense of ownership in delivering this work. That includes us collaboratively exploring marketing techniques, and avenues for creating materials and workshops for schools and local interest groups.

We also want to reach out to the people responsible for the buildings in our lives. Construction workers, architects, brick makers and town planners. We want context for the work and to foster an inclusive discussion about the places we live in and carry out our lives.

Art is often seen as inaccessible by a lot of people and “an art installation” can be difficult to relate to, especially by people in some of the more deprived communities in Stockton on Tees who have lower life chances and fewer opportunities to take part in creative processes.

Adam and Gillian create work with people that doesn’t talk down to them. Their work is inclusive and, in the cases of A Different North and Taking the Time, enabled local people to be involved and become integral to the piece of art created. That input – often on a vast scale including thousands of people - means that the community has ownership and understanding of the work. The art becomes for them because it is part of them.

Nick Wesson, Cultural & Heritage Expert, Land of Iron

This work follows on from our two previous projects, Taking The Time and A Different North. Both projects sought to use every day occurrences that we all have experience of as a starting point, a commonality for talking about bigger things.

During their work on Taking the Time and most recently, A Different North, Gillian and Adam have rooted themselves in Stockton and the wider Tees Valley, building genuine relationships and helping us understand our communities in new and different ways.

We are therefore hugely excited that they want to make this show for us, for Stockton, building on those relationships and taking them to a new level. We love the ambition for this piece of work to shine an international light on Stockton, something that happens so rarely – but why shouldn’t it? We often talk about artists playing a role in connecting Stockton to the rest of the world, and connecting the rest of the world to Stockton, through the stories they tell, and this show feels a perfect example of that.

Annabel Turpin, Former Chief Executive and Artistic Director, ARC Stockton

CONTEXT

If I could pinpoint the exact moment where I decided being an artist was a rather cool thing to be, it was at around 9 years old hearing about Carl Andre’s ‘Equivalent VIII’.

Actually, it would be more accurate to say, ‘hearing about the controversy around Equivalent VIII’.

The piece was purchased by the Tate in 1972. It is a sculpture consisting of 120 firebricks, arranged in two layers of six by ten. No one really cared about it. Another piece of modern art in a stuffy gallery in London.

However in 1976 The Times ran a story about public funded art, and featured a picture of the piece. A national debate ignited about the value of Modern Art.

Tabloids joined in, outraged that public money would be spent on a pile of bricks.

One featured an interview with a bricklayer called Bob, asking why his work wasn’t considered art, when they look the same.

They were so close… they nearly, accidentally, got it.

Bob’s bricks are a work of art. All they are missing is context, context that we think we can provide in our work.

Interestingly, the Tate put the bricks back on show and they were visited by far more people than would have ever seen them otherwise. The debate about art, and value, and materiality continued.

Those bricks had a power after all.