The Night-Time Economy: an exhibition by Kate Mercer and SJ Fowler in Newport and London

Newport: The Riverfront Theatre & Arts Centre April 6th to 30th 2016. (Monday - Saturday 10 a.m. - 8 p.m.)
Address: Ground Floor Gallery, The Riverfront Theatre & Arts Centre, Kingsway, Newport. NP20 1HG

London: Rich Mix Gallery - July 18th to 29th 2016 (Monday - Sunday 9 a.m. - 10 p.m.)
Address: Rich Mix Cinema & Arts Centre, 35 - 47 Bethnal Green Road, Shoreditch, London E1 6LA

A collaborative exhibition of photography and poetry exploring the often fractious energy and environment of Newport, Wales' nightclubs and pubs. Conceived and created in close collaboration between photographer Kate Mercer and poet & artist SJ Fowler, this exhibition will play off the complimentary possibilities for expressive abstraction in both visual and linguistic mediums, all centred around the complexity, energy and intensity of Newport on Friday and Saturday nights.

A detailed description of how the project came to be, by Kate Mercer, can be found here and an interview with Ben Glover of the Wales Arts Review, which explains further the exhibition and its process can be found here An excerpt below:

... "The themes of alcohol, boredom, change, frustration and security (amongst others) formed the original basis for this project, is that still the case? Or has the creative process altered the primary focus?

SJF: They are themes in the sense that they are a fundamental part of the subject of the exhibition, but for my part at least, being interested in language and ambiguity of meaning, they have always been in the background. They are not literally present I don’t think.

KM: They are implied as much in the title as the subject matter, I feel. There is not one poem or photograph that will link directly to these – we did not set out to create a project-by-numbers – but they may be recognisable to people when they view the work in this exhibition collectively."  ....

From the Newport Opening: April 6th & Rich Mix Gallery London Opening: July 19th 2016 

Both Special View events on April 6th and July 19th 2016 featured events celebrating the exhibition with new performances from the likes of Nia Davies, Eurig Salisbury and Marcus Slease, along with the presence of Poetry Wales in Newport. The poetry in the exhibition was presented in English and Welsh, the latter translated by Eurig Salisbury.


From two completely different sides of the UK, S.J. Fowler and Kate Mercer identified with each other through a shared experience of working in the night-time economy. With Steven previously employed in nightclub security, and Kate as a bar manager in Newport, both felt an intense connection to the alternative reality of this world, and through this exhibition, reflect on how this environment changed them and their work.

The project's primary focus has been Newport, but not as an exception. The Night-Time Economy reflects Newport without judgement or irony, it is documentation in image and abstract language. With Newport undergoing a period of regeneration and redevelopment, the exhibition aims to recognise the role that the arts can play in celebrating the city, by its very presence. This project focuses on the multifaceted components of Newport's Night-time economy, pursuing a neutrality of topic whilst preserving a loyalty to the place.

This project has been made possible through a ‘Research & Development’ grant by the Arts Council of Wales with support from The Riverfront Theatre & Arts Centre (Newport) and Rich Mix Cinema & Arts Centre (London) for which the artists express their thanks.

Kate Mercer -

Kate Mercer ’s personal photographic practice explores cultural uses of photography, specifically human relationships with memory and perception through the physicality of photographs. Using both found and self-sourced imagery as starting points, she aims to examine and explore the role of photography as document and self-constructed utopian record. Her work has been exhibited across the UK and abroad. This is her first collaborative project.

S.J. Fowler –

SJ Fowler is a poet and artist. He has published multiple collections of poetry and been commissioned by Tate Modern, the British Council, Tate Britain and is currently in residence at Wellcome Collection. He has been translated into 16 languages and performed at venues across the world, from Mexico City to Erbil, Iraq. He is the poetry editor of 3am magazine, Lecturer at Kingston University, teaches at Tate Modern and is the curator of the Enemies project.