Will Hughes (They/Them) is a multidisciplinary artist with a studio at the Auxiliary in Middlesbrough, North East England. Will has recently completed an MFA in Fine Art at the BxNU Institute in Newcastle. Will is from a working class background and identifies as non-binary. They explore human themes such as touch, belonging and sensuality, through the use of everyday and constructed objects and their histories. Utilising surfaces and shine to create filmic moments, while using lyrics which title and contextualise the work.
For their Masters in Fine Art (MFA) exhibition they produced an installation titled Marea. Translated from Italian or Spanish Marea means “the tide”: the movement of a body of water. Hughes explains: “Upon hearing the song ‘Marea (We lost dancing)’ (2021), by Fred Again and The Blessed Madonna I was drawn in by the collective loss in the lyrics, but the hope that “what comes next will be marvellous”. Reading about the song I found out Marea is actually the name of a friend of Fred Again he describes this Palestinian woman as a ‘rave shaman’ in that “Her ability to tell stories and share things that have always been a particularly beautiful part of Marea her beautiful mind”.
My mistranslation of Marea not as a person, but meaning “the tide” is a common theme for me when reading or listening. Through this dual translation I have now created the storytelling element and the concept of “the tide” deepens the connection to my work and around the subjects. In this work I am addressing themes and shared experiences such as loss, longing, and also personal narratives of intimacy and connection. This work looks to illuminate the shadows and in doing so allows for chance encounters to take place.
The installation is made up of two sculptural works and three sound pieces. As well as lighting elements of a roaming spot light, lit vents and a laser level this body of work explores ideas of cruising, hunting, exploring and chance. The roaming spot light acts to illuminate parts of the installation one by one. The works wait in the darkness to be found and shine under the light, creating a fleeting connection which is gone as quickly as it has arrived.
The fin-like shapes of the urinal dividers in the work ‘Well, somebody told me you had a boyfriend, Who looked like a girlfriend, That I had in February of last year’ (2019-2021), could be described as menacing. They appear to traverse the waves of concrete titled ‘Let’s go outside (Let’s go outside) In the moonshine’ (2021).
The waves form the Marea, “the tide” moving across the gallery space with no horizon in sight. A pulsing sonar fills the room and occasionally a contact pings back. Something has been found, a connection made but then disappears again out of sight.
An encounter has happened, a transaction has been made. A red laser cuts through the space marking the positions of the sculptures, tracking their positions and the viewer who becomes a participant as they traverse the installation.
The lit vents mark the final two speakers which are hung at head height. They quietly play in alternation spoken texts titled ‘I lick my lips’ (2020) and ‘Anticipating a spicy meal’ (2021), both these works contextualise some of the pop culture references to this exhibition but also the wider practice. Drawing on lyrics from music as well as moments from television and my own personal history in this work I am exploring ideas of touch, class and sensuality.”
To explore Hughes’s work further please visit the following platforms:
To watch ‘Marea’ please CLICK HERE.
Visit Balaclava.Q + explore more Queer contemporary art: CLICK HERE.
In 2021 Balaclava.Q proudly presents new publication UN//TITLED – An Anthology of Queer Contemporary Art (2016-2020). To learn more about UN//TITLED and to purchase a copy please CLICK HERE. All profits from the sale of UN//TITLED will go towards devising and realising our next curatorial project.
Balaclava.Q – An International Queer Visual Arts Project (+ Collective)
Supporting the LGBTQ+ Community since 2016 by Connecting // Promoting + Creating Platforms for Queer Artists.