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The Wireworks Project, Ambergate – May 2022

This was our first trip to see the Wireworks Project on the edge of Shining Cliff woods in Ambergate, a tricky place to find but well worth the trip. This space has been regenerated by artists Ivan Smith and Anthony Shepherd, who in collaboration with the owners of the former industrial buildings, have rented and then re-energised this derelict site. Some of what we saw was refreshingly bonkers and completely unexpected. What was immediately apparent is what these artists have achieved with a distinct lack of external investment, other than mending the leaking roof. All materials have either been found, given or salvaged from the woods.

The project is an experiment in what can be achieved on a totally neglected site such as this and it has responded to the immediate environment of industrial decay and the surrounding woods. The exhibition we saw ‘Nothing will be the last forever’, had been put on by local artist Kate Genever and was a circular exploration of the charcoal making, distillation and eventual mark-making, hence the wood became drawing material to draw the woods from which it came.

It was refreshing to see work that spoke for itself and wasn’t wrapped up in rhetorical art speak – this was confident artistic exploration unhindered by a higher purpose and was all the better for it. The next exhibition will be in September so I’d recommend you put that in your diary. My advice, take a map of the woods to save a long scenic walk.

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