Our Chief Article Writer Brittany Sutcliffe visits “Blowout”, an exhibition spanning from 2nd – 12th February showing the work of Callum and Liam Painter in BUMF gallery. 

This time around in our gallery, we have “Blowout”, an exhibition exploring the Bristol skate scene from the eyes of Callum and Liam Painter. I looked forward to visiting the private view for this especially as this is the first opportunity I’ve seen of work that I knew would be particularly revealing of a certain subculture. We’re all aware of stereotypes and why they exist but they’ll always limit our horizon and perception of individuals. This exhibition provided a series of windows to peek through for what the skate scene means to those inside the circle.

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For me and my hometown, the skate-park was always an intimidating space. The way the park was constructed, there was no way to subtly walk past with all the rolling and slamming of boards against the feeble attempts at what the council thought was adequate for those committed to the activity. The people that rode there were there every day. There was graffiti in respect of the person who helped get the council to build the park in the first place.

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The council spent loads on funding a heat sensitive camera so they could send the police over if anyone lit up a cigarette (in case it was anything else) but refused to build upon the space despite the evident passion for the activity. I’ve never spent more than a minute on a skateboard but to refute the importance of skate-parks to those who spend time in them would be plain ignorant of me.

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The exhibition displayed playful, simplistic flags that for me, suggested what Tyler The Creator would do if he was assigned with designing for IKEA. The photography work confidently voiced nothing more than fun and innocence, a stylistic social belonging that you can appreciate as an outsider. “This is who we are and this what we get out of it”.

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Very recently, I visited British Art Show 8 in Southampton and saw Mikhail Karikis’, “Children of The Unquiet”. The video was about a deserted town that the artist made a point of only being brought to life when filled with the presence of children. Similarities can be drawn between all the works in Blowout and Karikis’ video as often, the areas that skaters utilise are, as they aptly put it, “devalued pockets of paradise”. There’s nothing new or revealing about the spaces they’re shown to skate in except the glaring realisation that people are the only method of bringing life to a place.

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If a community can’t make the best of a space then it’s left to them to take pride in it. When I can embarrassingly admit I wouldn’t look twice at the spaces they’re skating in if they weren’t in them, there’s nothing more respectful and humbling than that, no matter your opinions on skating.

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Blowout will be in the gallery until 12th February, so there is still plenty of time to get down there and have a peek!

Words by Brittany Sutcliffe, Photographs by Kate Wolstenholme