ARMA 2014

Following an open call for applications New Walk Museum and Art Gallery, Leicester was selected to host the 2014 Alexandra Reinhardt Memorial Award artist residency. 

New Walk Museum & Art Gallery, Leicester’s original museum, is located on the historic New Walk. The Musem’s programme includes temporary exhibitions featuring works from our collections, touring exhibitions from National Museums and regular contemporary art and craft exhibitions. The art galleries include permanent displays of Picasso Ceramics: The Attenborough Collection and German Expressionist Art, the collection acclaimed as the finest of its kind in the UK.

The artist

Maria Zahle was chosen to undertake the 2014 Alexandra Reinhardt Memorial Award (ARMA) Artist Residency at New Walk Museum and Art Gallery, Leicester. The Danish-born artist began the prestigious residency and commission in early 2014.

Maria spent ten weeks in residence at the museum, developing a series of workshops for younger visitors to the museum. The results of these informed a commissioned artwork to be enjoyed by both children and adults alike. The installation was designed to encourage visitor engagement and physical play within Gallery 6, New Walk’s recently refurbished Victorian art gallery.

Maria Zahle was born in Copenhagen and studied at the Slade School of Fine Art and Royal Academy Schools in London. Within her work she seeks “to create an intense meeting between human body and sculptural form, using colour as a central tool to create impact.” Her practice can be divided into three strands. Stripes, executed in fabric, or ink on a wall, which create visual ladders from the ground to a normally unseen space up high, such the crown of a tree or the ceiling of a large gallery. Figures use the abstracted dimension of the human body as a starting point for reflection of our own presence, made in a variety of materials, whilst Doors combine flat colour and everyday materials such as tape, Perspex and fabric. 

Maria is influenced in her work by Phyllida Barlow and Elizabeth Murray, and the ways in which their practices move between painting and sculpture, figure and abstraction, emotion and formalism. She has worked on large-scale installations at Frieze Sculpture Park, London; Solo Objects, ARCO, Madrid; and Baltic39, Newcastle. Maria is currently working on a large public commission, a site-specific work for a new university building in Aalborg, Denmark. She is represented by Arcade Fine Arts.

I hope the commission will give people an appetite for further exploration of contemporary art. I hope the visitors to New Walk will see the new work as theirs to explore, look at, and think about. For me it’s a great opportunity to make a new work for a specific and beautiful space

Maria Zahle, Artist

We are immensely excited to be receiving such a significant commission from the artist Maria Zahle. It will be a major addition to our collections and provides an extraordinary opportunity to introduce children to contemporary art.

Hugo Worthy, Contemporary Art Exhibitions Officer, New Walk Museum and Art Gallery

Engage is delighted to be managing the ARMA Residency and Commission for a second year. Maria Zahle will create a work for Galllery 6, the refurbished Victorian art gallery at New Walk Museum and Art Gallery, drawing on ideas developed through work with young children around the theme of physical play. Research demonstrates the positive impact for children of working with artists with art, and we are delighted that Maria will have a sustained period of time to develop her ideas and artwork for the Museum.

Jane Sillis, Director, Engage

Maria has documented her time at New Walk on her blog — click here to visit.

The commission: Sails and dogs

Through a series of workshops, Maria considered how children and families could be encouraged to explore, play and be inspired in the museum, by the creation and installation of a new artwork. To see a selection of images taken during the workshops please click here. These experiences directly influenced Maria’s final designs, entitled Sails and Dogs, which consist of patterned fabric works stretching to the ceiling of the Victorian Art Gallery and a series of low, colourful sculptures on wheels. 

Maria documented the experiences of her residency on her blog, which you can visit here. 

Image gallery