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Meet the man behind the Redcar 500 exhibition! (with an interesting story to tell!)

The ‘Redcar 500’ photography exhibition is now in full swing at Redcar Contemporary Art Gallery on West Terrace, Redcar; and we went along to meet Icarus Wilson-Wright, the man behind this fantastic local exhibition!

Icarus was raised in Redcar, and takes up the story, “I moved to Redcar in 1973, and lived on Trafalgar Terrace at Coatham, and attended Coatham C of E School, where I did my 11 plus. I then studied at Sir William Turner Grammar School on Corporation Road, which later became Saltscar Comprehensive.

I then moved to Coventry, where I studied graphic design; and after a short stint at Butlins, Filey, I studied under renowned lecturer, Peter Hicks at the Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College in Darlington”.

Things then started to move for Icarus, as he headed to the northwest – “I then went to Manchester, studying Fine Art at the city’s polytechnic; and when I left there, I joined a band! I was percussionist in ‘New Fast Automatic Daffodils’ – we had some success: we did some ‘Peel Sessions’ on Radio 1, had a number one single in the indie charts, supported The Wonderstuff at their homecoming gig at the Bescott Stadium, Walsall and, our career was ‘top and tailed’ at the famous Hacienda club in Manchester – we began things by signing a record deal there and we played our final gig in the club.

My music career continued when I was the percussionist with Basement Jaxx for two years, which included a headline set at Glastonbury in 2004”.

Things then changed for Icarus, as he embarked on a career of ‘audience experience’. Icarus continues the story – “I then worked for Granada Studios, building audience seating for shows such as Blind Date and Stars In Your Eyes. This then opened up a path where I built stages for music events, such as for Oasis at their big Maine Road, Manchester gigs in 1996. It’s here where I learnt to climb and hang big pieces of kit!

Then came working for Sky Sports and the Rugby Super League, via Mitsubishi – where I hung modular video screens in the rugby stadiums”.

Icarus then got back into rock n roll! As Video Director, he started working for Massive Attack in 2003, and also currently works for Roger Waters (formerly Pink Floyd) and A-Ha; and previous artists include Arcade Fire and James Blake; and as ‘LED Technician’ Icarus worked on Oasis’s last tour, in 2008.

Icarus explains what his role of Video Director involves – “I essentially represent the artist’s vision on stage. I make sure the on-stage video content works how it should!”

What an interesting career Icarus has led! And so back to Redcar…Icarus explains what brings him back to a place that means so much to him; “I return to Redcar regularly. I got reacquainted with Simon Edwards, who has ‘Art on the Front’ at the Esplanade, and Simon introduced me to Miyoko at Redcar Contemporary Art Gallery.

When my Mum passed away, she left behind over 5,000 pieces of her own drawings, paintings and ceramics, and with Miyoko’s help, we organised an exhibition of 350 prints of Mum’s work, and this provided the inspiration for thinking about what we could do with this concept. We worked out that, logistically, we could hang 500 pictures, which led to ‘Redcar 500’! I am thinking of it really as a contemporary art piece, a sort of installation”.

The exhibition runs until 8 June, and it’s made up of photos from people who live, work or visit Redcar – photos which mean something to the entrant, but on no particular subject.

The ambition behind the project is to widen the gallery’s audience and make the gallery a place that participates in the creative life of the community; and Redcar 500 certainly does that.

And speaking of community, it’s what keeps drawing Icarus back to Redcar – “I have a real affection for Redcar. It’s by the sea, it’s relatively inexpensive and there’s real ambition to make the place even better; I’m looking forward to seeing how the place evolves in the future”.

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