Decorated alumna and long term Fine Art lecturer to launch major art exhibition

Categories: School of Arts, Media and Creative Technology

A decorated University of Salford alumna and former lecturer of 20 years is set to launch her first major art exhibition this month.

Jo Clements’ stunning new exhibition Everyone In This Room is Connected To Everyone In This Room will open at The Whitaker Museum and Art Gallery in Rawtenstall on Saturday 25 February.

The sprawling exhibition takes the visitors through a visual representation of the human brain through a colourful ‘Brain Garden’, constructed from a tangled web of velvet brains that can be interacted with through AR (augmented reality). The event will also feature the premiere of three new films that present ‘humorous and heart-breaking narratives’ and reflect psychological theories around the ‘strange unpredictability of human understanding.’

Jo’s groundbreaking production, which has been supported by Arts Council funding, will also host a one-day festival on Sunday 11 March called Festival of the Brain, which will feature a variety of guest speakers presenting different areas of expertise and viewpoints relating to aspects and ideas of the brain and how they have inspired the main exhibition. She will also hold a walkthrough talk of the exhibition and discuss its key concepts on Thursday 9 March.  

The Salford graduate said: “I am very excited for this exhibition. The seeds of it have been a long time coming and I’ve been wanting to bring it to life for ages.

“The underlying thing that flows through it all is learning and intelligence. What we value and what we don’t. I’m very interested in that and the Brain Garden was inspired by the works of Merlin Sheldrake who talks about how the roots of trees and plants talk to each other.

"As an artist, I like to work theatrically and truly believe there’s nothing understated about the exhibition. It shows that I’ve got a theatre prop maker’s brain as I really just wanted to put on a show that people would come from all over to see.”

The concept of the exhibition was inspired by Jo’s personal anxieties around the pursuit of knowledge and how we are defined by the knowledge we take in and accrue from the world around us.

Jo graduated from Salford in 1998 with a BA in Visual Arts and Culture before going on to do an MA in Contemporary Fine Art and then a PhD. She worked at the University from around 2000 to 2020 and lectured on the MA Contemporary Arts, MA Creative Education and MA Fine Art programmes. She picked up the Greater Manchester Art Prize in 2018 and was awarded an AI fellowship with BeFantastic Bangalore on machine learning in 2020.

Her exhibition at the Whitaker was one of 166 proposals submitted and was given the green light in October 2021, giving Jo just under 18 months to pull it all together.

Gaynor Seville, Creative Director of The Whitaker and fellow Salford BA Fine Art graduate said: “I am utterly delighted to be welcoming Jo Clements and Everyone In This Room Is Connected To Everyone In This Room to The Whitaker. I have known Jo for a long time and watching her work evolve and develop has been a privilege. In this new work created especially for The Whitaker, Jo explores the science and art of the brain with her trademark playfulness and humour. I can’t wait for visitors to enter Jo’s world of handmade velvet sculptures, sci-fi stories and contemporary concerns about AI and machine learning.”

Following its opening, the museum will be at the Whitaker until Sunday 7th May. More information on how to book can be found online

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