Nomadic Tales at Millennium Gallery

Nomadic Tales at Millennium Gallery supporting image

The new Richard Bartle exhibition begins this weekend

This winter, a new exhibition by contemporary artist Richard Bartle explores the capacity of myth to traverse borders and boundaries. Presenting a brand new series of works, Nomadic Tales opens at Sheffield’s Millennium Gallery on Saturday 18 January 2020.


When Richard Bartle discovered the drawings of Siyah Kalem, or Black Pen, 15 years ago, it began an enduring fascination. He became captivated by these 14th century images which had crossed the borders of Iran, Turkey, China and Mongolia.


Bartle first experienced the drawings in 2005 as part of the Royal Academy exhibition, Turks: A Journey of a Thousand Years, 600–1600. These small works, depicting demons, nomadic lifestyles and ancient cultures, subsequently inspired Bartle to spend long periods living and working in Istanbul.


Nomadic Tales sees Bartle, like many storytellers before him, explore the power of myth to span cultural boundaries. The exhibition debuts a new series of large-scale paintings in which Bartle consciously re-presents visual symbols and social and political images he observed on the streets of contemporary Istanbul to create his own personal version of the drawings of Black Pen.


The works on display incorporate imagery that includes architectural and design motifs, marks appropriated from graffiti and street art, stencil art representations of political figures and individuals Bartle encountered, and a textural language made using the objects he found in streets of Istanbul. Through this intersection of historic and contemporary, intention and interpretation, Bartle questions how the journey of these drawings continues as the stories they tell are told once again.


Richard Bartle said: “For over a decade Siyah Kalem has been the prism through which I witnessed contemporary life in Istanbul. His beautiful illustrations of 14th century life always seemed to be reflected in the world around me. He was the conduit through which my own enquiry and reframing of the rich texture of the city took place.”


Alison Morton, Head of Exhibitions at Museums Sheffield said: “The way stories and myths, and the imagery associated with them, endure, travel and continue to connect with us centuries after they were first created is remarkable. Their capacity to find new life, often in new forms, is at the heart of Richard Bartle’s exploration of the work of Black Pen.” 


Richard Bartle was born in Rotherham in 1967. He is Founder and Director of Sheffield’s Bloc Studios, home to over 65 fine artists and crafts people, and was formerly Director and Curator of Bloc Projects.


Bartle has exhibited widely in both solo and group exhibitions, including ?eytan Tüyü (2019), Halka Sanat Projects, Istanbul, Deities at the Bottom of the Garden (2018), Manchester Central Library, Confluence (2018), Herrick Gallery, Mayfair, London, Blasphemy (2010), Irish Museum of Contemporary Art, Dublin and Pan-demonium (2009), AC Institute, New York. Bartle has worked extensively in Turkey, with residencies including Halka Sanat Projesi, Istanbul (2018), Mardin Biennial. Mardin (2010),Caravansari, Istanbul (2010) and Platfrom Garanti Artists Residency, Istanbul (2008).


Richard Bartle: Nomadic Tales opens at Millennium Gallery on Saturday 18 January and continues until 12 April 2020 – entry to the exhibition is free.

25/7/17 - 25/7/19 12 month blenheim

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