Internationally renowned artist collects Bournemouth's memories
- Credit: Stuart Semple
Internationally renowned conceptual artist Stuart Semple has launched a major project to preserve local memories from his home town of Bournemouth. Semple is one of the UK’s leading post YBA (Young British Artists) names, known for his Happy Cloud performance from Tate Modern, where he flooded the London skyline with artificial, eco clouds in the shape of smiley’s during the 2009 recession.
His latest project the Marvellous Memory Machine, is a collaboration with Bobby’s, the resurrected iconic former Debenhams department store, and is part of a shared longer-term commitment towards local history, community, arts and culture within the region.
The Marvellous Memory Machine takes the form of a customised Victorian bathing hut, set to tour the local area as soon as Covid restrictions allow. The artwork's first outing is Bournemouth Town Centre, however you can also interact with it online. People with memories of Bournemouth are invited to visit the website where they can record their video stories, with the option for them to be shared on social media.
Locals are invited to visit the Memory Machine in person in The Square from May 14 to 28, and to take a moment to add their memories of the town. Shortly after this initial residency, the artwork will tour the local community, from schools to care homes.
‘There are so many incredible local stories,’ said Semple, who is Bournemouth born and bred and began his art studies at Bournemouth & Poole College. ‘I’m fascinated by all the old photographs that are circulating online. I hope that my art project will result in a video archive of local memories and it’ll be a way to build a bridge between the older and younger generations.’
About Stuart Semple
Born in Bournemouth in 1980, Semple is a multidisciplinary British artist working across painting, sculpture, happenings, technology and activism. He is well known for his sociologically engaged works that often discuss youth politics, accessibility and democracy.
Semple’s body of work orbits around a handful of recurring themes; anxiety, society, cultural history, technology, connection, community and freedom. Ultimately landing with a clear-minded sense of utility, that art itself should have a social function.
His works have been exhibited at numerous solo and group exhibitions including venues such as The Barbican, ICA London, Frieze, Denver Art Museum and The Whitworth. He has also created large-scale public projects for cities including Melbourne, Dublin, London, Moscow and Manchester. His most ambitious was Happy City (2018) where he created several large-scale public interventions throughout Denver which then featured in the Amazon Prime documentary Mr. Happy.
Semple is well known for utilising the internet as a performance space, via such projects as The Pinkest Pink and Blackest Black at CultureHustle.com, an ongoing project to liberate art materials giving access to all.
In 2020, Semple launched VOMA, the Virtual Online Museum of Art, the world’s first virtual museum, made entirely for digital consumption. And in 2021 opened the doors to his artist run gallery Giant in Bournemouth (The Avenue Centre, Commercial Road) exhibiting major international artists in a program of sociologically engaged curatorial shows.
Semple regularly speaks on art and mental health and was honoured by the UN with a Happiness Hero medal in recognition for his Happy Cloud performance from Tate Modern in London. He is also an ambassador for mental health charity Mind, with whom he initiated the creative therapies fund throughout England and Wales.
Find out more about Stuart Semple here, follow on Twitter and Instagram