A Portrait of Florence

A presentation of films, research and photography that explores Florence Mine and Arts Centre as well as the process of filmmaking and documenting.

Exhibition now showing


Over the past year artist Alex Culshaw has been documenting and researching Florence Mine and Arts Centre. During this special evening Alex will present the culmination of this experience and a new body of artwork.  Alex’s art practice confronts the construction of documentary forms and storytelling, highlighting the fine line between fact and fiction.  Alex’s work addresses the political, draws on the poetic and brings forth a discussion between labour, site and identity.

On Friday 18 August Alex presented the work in an evening made up of three parts that began with Alex’s film Egremont Red – the preface.  This live read film introduced Florence Mine via an iron ore mine in Kiruna, Sweden as well as Robert Smithson’s underground cinema. Written as a metalogue the narrative raises the problematic nature of realising an idea, exploring the relationship between ‘potential’ impossible propositions, the unseen, and ability to see.


Alex continued to reflect on Florence Mine and Arts Centre. This 'live read' led the audience through footage of Florence Mine as well as the artists' process of research and ambitions for her film. The live read screening ended with Egremont Red - fade to black; a live re-staging and filming of footage of Florence Mine that was originally filmed by ex-miner, Garry Connell. The soundscape, made in collaboration with Jenny Berger Myhre, leads into a dream-like meditation on the process of documenting and reconstruction, in an attempt to get closer to a realisation. 


The second part of the evening saw the premiere screening of Alex’s film A Portrait of Florence. This short film juxtaposes footage of Florence Mine and the Arts Centre with the voice of the mine manager Gilbert Finlinson and artist Jenni Payne who runs the Paintmakers Co-op.


The final part of the evening was an exclusive screening of Gary Connell’s footage that Alex has edited together with the guidance of Gary Connell and Gilbert Finlinson. This footage shows the mine, machinery and what it was actually like underground before the mine flooded in 2008. 

As a whole the evening and following exhibition will attempt to portray Florence Mine, departing from a potentially fictional position into a more authentic position. Raising questions around authenticity and highlighting the importance of documenting and portraying Florence Mine and Arts Centre.


Alex has also produced a series of photographs and a book that will be on display in the Café Gallery. The photographs collage stills of footage that Alex has produced in London for the project and images of Florence Mine. The artist’s book includes the transcripts of interviews with miners Gilbert Finlinson and Garry Connell as well as research documents, photographs and scripts written and created by Alex during the past year. 

Alex Culshaw writes:

Working predominantly with moving image and installation, my work confronts the construction of documentary forms and storytelling. By experiencing and recording cultural and socio-economic conditions, in which I am often a tourist or external observer, I explore temporality and realism. My practice negotiates how an artist may choose to move away from the specifics of a place, object or narrative and invest the material with new readings. My work addresses the political, draws on the poetic and brings forth a discussion between labour, site and identity. 


Through the appropriation of video footage and narratives, my work explores the idea of a material’s (in)ability to completely replicate its original state and what results from this disparity. Through the use of self-reflexive narratives and a process of documenting and reconstructing, my projects often comment on that which cannot be seen or captured. Ambition and failure are common narratives, as are the notions of pretence and the act of embellishment. 


Alex can be contacted by email

Website: www.alexculshaw.com

Instagram: @culsh22


Alex Culshaw (b. 1989,) is an artist from Yokrshire based in London. Alex has recently graduated from the Royal College of art with an MA in Sculpture – Moving Image (2015 - 2017) and studied BA Art Practice at Goldsmiths University (2009 - 2012). Alex has exhibited and screened her work nationally and internationally, including recent exhibitions and screenings at ‘The fin comes a little early this siècle’ at Jerwood Visual Arts, London 2017; ‘RCA Degree Show 2017’ Royal College of Art, London, 2017; ‘Doremifasoladido’ at Florence Arts Centre, Cumbria, 2016; ‘Notes.app’ Dyson Gallery, London, 2016; ‘Work In Progress’ Royal College of Art, London, 2016; ‘Redo’ The Advisory, London, 2016; ‘Open Screenings’ Whitechapel Gallery, London, 2014. Alex is also co-founder and curator for Spectrum: A Survey of Artists’ Moving Image and Moving Image curator and facilitator for Doremi residency October 2017 at Grizdale Arts, Cumbria.

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