Exchange Artist & Research Residency

The Exchange Artist and Researcher Residencies were led by Tees Valley Arts, with both residencies beginning in September 2021 and culminating in September 2022.

The research residency took place between September 2020 and March 2022, with research being carried out at Tees Valley Arts by James Beighton and Grace Redpath. Temperance and Intemperance in Middlesbrough between 1830 to 1930 was used as a case study, in connection to Middlesbrough Winter Garden as an underlying theme of the programme and Middlesbrough Pottery. The research question asked – How do material and visual culture research methods enable the researcher to address the lack of archival material to reveal new stories of Middlesbrough’s history?

Artist Layla Khoo in Navigator North’s Hill Street Centre, Pop up studio. Photo by Dawn McNamara

‘The Exchange’ was the culmination of the year long Exchange Artist Residency. This is a public participatory art installation of ceramics created by Layla Khoo, who was artist in residence for 12 months. Initially created as a site specific installation within the copper dome at the uppermost point of Commerce House in Exchange Square, visitors were be able to experience this site specific installation and had an opportunity to keep part of the work during Middlesbrough Art Weekender in September 2022.

Image shows visitors and Layla Khoo (in blue) with ‘The Exchange’ at Commerce House, Exchange Square, Middlesbrough. September 2022 during Middlesbrough Art Weekender.
Photograph by Jason Hynes

Layla took inspiration from the industrial history at the heart of Exchange Square and the town of Middlesbrough, creating objects referencing both the scoria blocks resulting from the iron furnaces and the tradition of commemorative ceramics from the Middlesbrough potteries.
To celebrate the history of the town’s industrial philanthropists and recognise the enduring charitable and benevolent giving of Middlesbrough businesses and individuals alike, Layla invited the public to consider making an “exchange” in the location of the original Royal Exchange building. 365 hand made commemorative porcelain block sculptures are available for visitors to take away.

‘The Exchange’ by Layla Khoo at Commerce House, Exchange Square, Middlesbrough September 2022. Photographs by Jason Hynes

In exchange visitors voluntered a day of their time to one of a selection of charitable causes within Middlesbrough, in association with the work of the Teesside Charity. This non-monetary exchange of a piece of art for volunteer hours is recorded in a “Share Certificate” to acknowledge and archive the exchange.

From Saturday 15th October to 26th November 2022, ‘The Exchange’ featured as part of Navigator North’s exhibition ‘Give/Receive’ at The Masham, where further exchanges were made.

At the commencement of the installation, the 365 art works represented the year long artist residency. At it’s close, the 365 certificates marking the exchanges represent a year of time given back to Middlesbrough charities and communities.

Read more about Layla’s residency here.