Pints will be swapped for paint when Middlesbrough’s former Royal British Legion Club is transformed into The Rainbow Room as local artist Hannah Campion serves up her first hometown solo exhibition and installation.
Once the favoured drinking establishment of Middlesbrough’s proud military veterans, the Park Road North venue called last orders in 2011 after membership numbers plummeted.
Now experienced artist Hannah is inviting art-lovers and social club regulars alike to raise a glass to her exhibition – just as long as they stick to the strict dress code.
She explained: “I want visitors to become part of the painting so I’m asking everyone who visits the Rainbow Room to wear as brightly coloured clothing as possible.”
Hannah, who specialised in Painting at Loughborough University before studying MA Fine Art at Chelsea College of Art and Design, is grateful the club’s owners Andy Pickett and Mark Finnegan have given her the opportunity to create what she describes as “an all-encompassing installation” that creates both real and imaginary environments.
While the space has been transformed since Hannah began her artistic residency late in May, she promises any returning former Legion regulars will still recognise their old drinking hole.
Hannah, who lives in Linthorpe, revealed that the club’s old dartboard, snooker queue stand, sofas and even the bar are now part of her art installation.
“I’d love to see a few of the old regulars pay a return visit,” she said. “I’ll be like the landlord, welcoming people back.”
Designed to “blur the lines between painting, sculpture and installation”, the Rainbow Room is the result of a year-long project to create a series of new artworks that are just part of the unique installation.
Long hours of back-breaking work saw Hannah transform the club’s former colour scheme of dark kidney red, black paintwork, brown leather seats and beer-stained murky maroon carpet to a white blank canvas.
“It’s been seriously hard graft, as I’ve done pretty much all of it all myself,” she continued. “But I can’t wait to see the reaction of those who see it.
“Holding a solo exhibition in Middlesbrough is something I’ve wanted to do since before I graduated. Everything I’ve done over the past year has been for this exhibition so I feel a real weight of apprehension.
“But I want people to come into the installation and explore it. Visitors can walk barefoot on one of the pieces and sit on other pieces of the art so it’s a really interactive space and family-friendly too. People can expect the unexpected.”
Drawing on her interest in architectural details and natural forms and surfaces, Hannah has used subtle colours, marks and different materials to direct the viewer’s eye and body.
Launched as part of Middlesbrough Arts Weekender, the Rainbow Room exhibition features the film Magnatation in Colour, an optical sensation by Saltburn-based artist and photographer Kev Howard, and runs in conjunction with UN-NAMED 3 on the Disco Floor, featuring 16 artists co-curated by Hannah and Professor Danny Rolph.
Taking place in the old British Legion Club, 4-6 Park Road North, Middlesbrough, TS1 3LD, The Rainbow Room / Magnatation in Colour exhibitions are open Friday October 5 and Saturday October 6, 10am-5pm, and Sunday October 7, 11am-4pm. Admission is free.
Hannah Campion will be in conversation with artist Professor Danny Rolph and the SEDICI art group on Friday, October 5, at 3pm discussing The Rainbow Room, Magnatation in Colour and UN-NAMED 3.