"Communal Spaces" Exhibition

19th– 27th November 2018


What spaces comprise our notions of ‘community’ when we look past place names and area divisions? The places where we live are the result of challenged and changed traditions as well as the ongoing development and growth that communities adapt to continually. Presently, in the year 2018, spaces within communities are experiencing cultural shifts sown from rapidly changing technology, lifestyles and demographics within given individual vicinities. That is not to say these groups of people and their shared spaces have dramatically altered throughout time. In fact, the very spaces that constitute our communities are arguably timeless; walking through both urban and provincial spaces, whether it’s a village, town or city centre, both show the longevity and development of communal spaces. 


The Norman Rea Gallery’s forthcoming exhibition ‘Communal Spaces’ intended to capture a range of people’s shared spaces as they have undergone, are undergoing and will undergo temporal and social changes. The exhibition focussed on photography and film as artistic mediums will hopefully display the relationship the artists have with their subjects as personal and intimate. This is given their immediate experiences with their subjects. 


The exhibition did not intend to limit itself to a given place or time, but to explore communal spaces more broadly and in many ways. It hopes to have provided an honest and representative sense of what many may currently see as a move away from the community, and its spaces in the digital world we currently live in. 


Amongst themes of interest, the temporal effect on shared spaces and how they have changed and how they are changing over time will be shown. The exhibition had specifically focussed on the abandoned space versus the revived space. This should have provided an interesting dialogue on the fashions and interpretations of a time and the priorities of individual places. The way in which certain communal spaces contribute to the overarching cultural identity of a place, (or the perceived identity), is an idea that is hoped will feed into the previous theme.


Likewise, loss and exclusion is another theme that seems appropriate when exploring spaces shared by people. If possible, the exhibition hoped to have given representation to cases of exclusion from community spaces, whether that be social, ethnic or economic. It also looked at communal spaces that have become excluded themselves, whether through demolition or vacancy or simply due to a sudden change in a place’s circumstance. 


Finally, the exhibition aimed to look more abstractly at communal spaces that have and will never exist physically. In an age dominated by technology, social media and the ‘screen’, it is hoped the exhibition had questioned whether we live too independently and what effect this is having on the survival of physical spaces still at the heart of communities. The very idea of a collective of peoples based on similarities that the term ‘communal spaces’ denotes can perhaps be seen in the collective nature of social media outlets.