Sophie Lisa Beresford was born in Sunderland and grew up immersed in the North East Rave Scene, which she describes as being part of a “council estate culture”. Beresford celebrates this culture, by using her art work as a vessel with which to explore, how the impact of her practice can represent the culture she so strongly believes in - according to Beresford, the “artwork being created from our culture, about our culture, is a powerful way to encourage people from working-class communities to engage in their own creativity and have belief and ownership in their own ideas and art practices”.
After winning The Journal Culture Awards Visual Artist of the Year 2017 for her exhibition “Geordie, Mackem, Magick” at Arts Centre Washington and Sunderland City Library, Sophie Beresford applied for Breeze Creatives Experimental Studio residency programme, which this year was based around responding to The Great Exhibition of the North. After being selected out of over 80 applicants, the result of her residency can be experienced in this exhibition of new work, “North East Style”.
For Beresford, this unrepresented working-class voice in contemporary art can also be a means of introducing people to the beauty of this culture, which is often hidden under stereotypes, obscured by media agendas seemingly created to demonise these communities as opposed to giving them a voice or fair representation.
Beresford’s artwork therefore can seem very tribal with a metaphysical bent, containing within it elements of energy, perception, reality - the very nature of being human; Beresford is an artist built to create.
For this residency and exhibition Beresford has focused on indelible patterns that arise from nature and from human culture, modern and synthetic, ancient and natural, physical and non-physical, through a sublime collection of abstract textile 'paintings' made from patch worked and appliquéd North East Style, working-class culture and fashion, accompanied by a performance of New North East Style EDM (the North East’s underground Creative Economy and Sub-Cultural Force) at the Kommunity nightclub written and produced by Beresford and her partner Stephen Bruce (DJ Infinite), a North East Style Producer, DJ & record label owner (Rewired Records).
Showcasing these works through a traditional gallery format allows them to envelope a new depth of cultural value and access a wider audience. These works, produced by Beresford during the residency period hope to reinstate and reinforce what Beresford describes as “our proud and positive outlook upon our own culture”; believing that the more positive a self-image we create the more mobility we gain, using art to help us rise up, be heard and allow our culture to be celebrated.