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Friday, 07 September 2018
By Laura-Jade Vaughan

Unusual Facts about Nottingham Contemporary

Lara Favaretto, Thinking Head, 2017. Installation view at Nottingham Contemporary. Generously supported by The Ampersand Foundation.


Our 2017 installation by Lara Favaretto caused a stir. Thinking Head - an artwork where steam rose from the top of our building – was mistaken for being a fire at the gallery. The artwork has become famous, even making an appearance on Have I Got News for You.


We have held lots of events, including talks by international artists, but did you know we’ve held a lecture by Nottingham designer Paul Smith, a discussion with graphic novelist Alan Moore, and we’ve hosted the feminist writer Germaine Greer. We’ve programmed music gigs by The Futureheads, Sun Ra Arkestra, Don Letts, and more recently Neneh Cherry performed among the tapestries of her grandmother, Moki Cherry.

© Nathan Dainty – VeryCreative

The first public appearance of Harry and Meghan was made at Nottingham Contemporary after they announced their engagement. Crowds gathered outside our venue to see the royal couple attend an event organised by Terrence Higgins Trust- a charity supporting those affected by HIV & fighting against stigmatisation & discrimination.


In 2017, we worked with students from Farnborough Academy in Clifton, Nottingham, to develop new work that reflected their hometown. The students work was then featured in an exhibition at Nottingham Contemporary and at the very prestigious National Portrait Gallery in London.

Credit: Peter Anderson

The steps at the side of our building have an unpleasant history. In 1844 Nottingham’s notorious murderer William Saville was publicly executed. The event attracted large crowds and got out of control, leading to a large crush where people were being trampled, and tragically 12 people died.


Our building is green, gold, concrete… and pink? Have you ever spotted that the air conditioning unit on top of our building is actually coloured pink? It was a last-minute decision from our architects, meant as a playful metaphor that the building’s pink knickers were accidentally on show.


Our lace heritage is seen in our building. Did you know that our building is embedded with an antique cherry blossom lace design by Richard Birkin from 1847, that was discovered in a time capsule buried on our building’s site?


We’re based in the oldest site in the city, home to a Saxon town hall and jail, and a Victorian railway tunnel. The remnants of an old railway tunnel runs from our venue to the old Victoria Railway Station, where Intu Victoria Centre sits today.


Our building is cuts into Nottingham’s sandstone cliffs, making it seem larger on the inside than the outside. You might find our venue has a cavernous underground vibe. Nottingham has hundreds of man-made caves- many yet to be discovered.


Posted by ljvaughan at 16:17    COMMENTS
Thursday, 23 August 2018
There’s always lots happening at Nottingham Contemporary. Inside our iconic green and gold building embedded with lace, you’ll find eccentric artwork you can wear or sit on, lots of weird and wonderful family activities and crazy optical illusions.
Keep scrolling to find out what you can see and take part this bank holiday weekend…
Bank Holiday opening times
Fri: 10am – 6pm
Sat: 10am – 6pm
Sun: 11am – 5pm
Mon: 10am – 5pm 


1. Wear an artwork

When you visit us, you’ll find a giant curtain snaking through the galleries, made entirely from t-shirts sewn together. The artist, Pia Camil, uses cheap t-shirts sold at street markets in her native Mexico City, to look at global trade and consumerism. This is an interactive artwork, so visitors are encouraged to pop their head through the artwork to see things from a new angle. Go along and give it a try…

2. Be dazzled by optical illusions

Credit: Trix & Robert Haussmann: The Log-o-Rithmic Slide Rule, Nottingham Contemporary, 2018. Photo Sam Kirby.
Things are not what they seem in our exhibition by Trix & Robert Haussmann. These Swiss architects and designers aim to playfully deceive the viewer through visual tricks using mirrored surfaces, perspective and unexpected materials. Take a look, but you might need to look again…


3. Invent Weird and Wonderful Things

Credit: Marta Sanches Costa
All through the summer hols, families can take a trip to Weirderland and can get creative (and weird!) together. When you arrive, you can press a giant button to auto-generate a random thing for you to invent and make. Will you make a Cool Shaker, Shiny Shrinker, or how about a Fuzzy Relaxer?

4. Lounge around in a hammock made of jeans

Credit: Pia Camil: Split Wall, Nottingham Contemporary, 2018. Photo Sam Kirby.
Lie back and relax in Pia Camil’s interactive exhibition. You’ll find a hammock made from stuffed jeans, which is surprisingly comfy – a great place to take a moment to soak up the atmosphere and think about the art that is on show.

5. Play with digital trickery

Weirderland is a very strange place. As well as being able to invent your own art, families can also be part of some extraordinary illusions. See endless versions of yourself in our chamber of mirrors, experience the world upside-down, or see yourself flying and spinning through space using our green screen. Great for unusual family photos!

6. Find out more about our exhibitions

Photo Sam Kirby
Our Gallery Assistants spend more time with our exhibitions than anyone else, so if you’d like to find out more they’re a great source of information. Join us this weekend, Fri 2.30pm, Sat 1.30pm, or see the full schedule here…

7. Fun but functionless chairs

Trix & Robert Haussmann, Chair Fun: Choco-Chair, 1967/2012, Stahlrohr verchromt, Courtesy Zürcher Hochschule der Künste, Museum für Gestaltung Zurich; Hintergrund. Trix & Robert Haussmann, Chair-Fun: Neon-Stuhl, 1967. Courtesy Trix and Robert Haussmann.
These playful chairs by Trix & Robert Haussmann are less about being functional, and more about being fun. We do not recommend taking a seat!

8. Pick up an Explorer Bag

Explore our exhibitions whilst taking part in activities as a family. Each of our Explorer Bags are filled with different activities, so you can search for artworks and create your own piece of art in response. The bag doubles up as a rug, so after you’ve explored you can get comfy and enjoy a story together. Available daily from reception.

9. Shop

Our shop stocks all sorts of innovative and interesting, products from the most exciting designers and makers from Nottingham and beyond. We’ve got a broad selection of books, homeware, jewellery and accessories, and gift ideas.
For kids, our shop sells a variety of pocket money souvenir from your trip with finger puppets, kaleidoscopes, fun badges, and branded merchandise, including Nottingham Contemporary’s famous zebra mascot.

10. Eat Cake

Need we say more? We serve delicious cakes, including passion fruit meringue pie, lemon and white chocolate tart, blood orange and juniper frangipani, and a personal favourite- the salted caramel brownie.
Posted by ljvaughan at 17:02    COMMENTS


Welcome to our blog, written by the Nottingham Contemporary team and guests.

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