Blog: Ryan Smith

The curator of Throw-Up, an Arts Council-funded transformation of an ex-weaving shed and a collective exhibition of graffiti art

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I was given a book, Runes: A Handbook by Michael P. Barnes, by an ex-RAF pilot who I recently found out was a storm chaser. It explains that medieval runic graffiti was found principally in churches, wooden or stone, and in places where people congregated, sought shelter or rested up, and there was a suitable surface for carving creating.

The first graffiti was written by cavemen. But, like the work in Throw-Up, it was not graffiti. It was legal. Therefore this new exhibition in Leeds is a congregation of minds on a mission to paint and communicate, with no fear or rush. In an age when we are more likely to type than talk, the project has allowed generations to meet, to experience, share and interact in a space.

Throw-Up is completely legal, set in the Weaving Shed (a 14,000 sq ft derelict industrial space) of Sunny Bank Mills, Leeds. We have permission from the owners and funding from the Arts Council to help us complete the task. There is a different interaction, with a space provided for change and natural transformation within urban decay. Carrots don’t grow naturally in the shed – it’s pre-manufacturing at its worst. This show will be full of puke.

Some artists have funded their own projects, reflecting their self-motivated artistic practice – done by all for the love and enjoyment of creation. Consider the artists are leaving a reflection within the image, created in a similar way to an ego. The ego is left on the wall or taken elsewhere.

Explore the idea of exploration. In mills across Yorkshire, ending in Sunny Bank, a range of creators, artist, makers and painters embark on their own path. On opening night there’ll be live speed painting, music, a skateboard ramp and visitors can join in with the painting of the world’s longest carrot.

Why the world’s longest carrot? It’s a dedication to my Grandma (Myrtle Smith). She cooks the best-boiled carrots – the only ones I would eat as a child. Some of my artistic practise lies within carrots, keeping my grandma’s legacy going whilst promoting a healthy lifestyle. The world record is a way of sharing that legacy with the local community, allowing them to work towards a goal and experience something first-hand.

Throw-Up is at Sunny Bank Mills, Farsley from 31 July.

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