Rural Art Space

May 28, 2007

SHORT CV s PRESENTERS

Filed under: Uncategorized — ruralartspace @ 7:59 am

Short CVs speakers and presenters
(in alphabetical order)

Martin Barlow
www.mostyn.org

Martin Barlow is Director of Oriel Mostyn Gallery, Llandudno. After studying at the London School of Economics and then the School of Oriental and African Studies he spent periods in France and Japan before returning to the UK and working in manufacturing industry for nearly a decade. A temporary secondment to Tate Gallery Liverpool at the time of its opening in 1988 resulted in a move into the visual arts. Several temporary positions in smaller galleries in north Wales led eventually to the post of Exhibitions Officer at Wrexham Arts Centre and, from 1997, Director of Oriel Mostyn Gallery, with eighteen months in between spent managing a photolibrary. He has contributed to numerous books, journals and exhibition catalogues, and is particularly interested in issues of cultural identity within an international artistic context. From Lagos to Llandudno in the current issue of the engage journal discusses Oriel Mostyn’s record of showing artists from Africa and Latin American in an exhibitions programme based on a strong awareness of the Gallery’s cultural and geographical location. He has travelled extensively and his photographs are widely published in books, magazines and elsewhere. He was born in St Asaph, Denbighshire, and now lives in nearby Cefn Meiriadog.

Kathrin Böhm
www.publicworksgroup.net
www.myvillages.org

Kathrin is founding member of the art/architecture collective public works (see also Torange Khonsari) and of the artist initiative myvillages.org.
Trained as a painter at the Academy of Fine Arts in Nuremberg, and an MA in Fine Art at Goldsmiths College, she is now mainly working in collaborative practice in the public realm and in public settings. Kathrin is currently an AHRC Research Fellow at the School of Art and Design, University of Wolverhampton.
Recent and current projects include Höfer Waren a 10 year local product design project in her home village Höfen, Germany (as part of ourvillage, myvillages.org), British Art Show 06 Hayward Gallery Touring Exhibition and Park Products for Serpentine Gallery and (together with public works).

Tim Collins
http://3r2n.cfa.cmu.edu

Associate Dean for Research, Graduate Studies and Enterprise
School of Art and Design, University of Wolverhampton, UK
Distinguished Research Fellow, STUDIO for Creative Inquiry, Carnegie Mellon University
BFA., University of Rhode Island
MFA San Francisco Art Institute
PhD Candidate University of Plymouth

Tim was employed in the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry at Carnegie Mellon University from 1997-2005, working with his partner Reiko Goto, Tim directed 3Rivers – 2nd Nature, a five year project with primary funding from the Heinz Endowments and the Warhol Foundation. They managed a team of artists, scientists, designers and students working together on issues of public space and ecology along the post-industrial waterfronts of Allegheny County, PA. In fall 2005 they organized an initiated a series of public programs, a conference and an exhibition Groundworks (curated by Grant Kester) that examined international approaches to art, ecology and planning. Tim co-directed the Nine Mile Run project (with Reiko, Bob Bingham and John Stephen) from 1997-2000. Projects currently under development with Reiko Goto include; The Secret Life of Trees a biogenic interface for British cities and conurbations and focal point design projects in Israel and Germany. Previous work with Reiko include; Watermark at the Ludwig-Forum Museum in Aachen Germany and, A Liquid Evaluation of the Brooklyn Waterfront for Creative Time, N.Y.

Publications
2006 Collins, T., (2006) “Art Nature and Aesthetics in the Post Industrial Public Realm” in “Healing Nature, Repairing Relationships: Restoring Ecological Spaces and Consciousness”, Editor Robert France, MIT Press, Boston MA.
2005 Collins, T., Goto, R., (2005) “An Ecological Context” in “New Practices/New Pedagogies: Emerging Contexts, Practices and Pedagogies in Europe and North America” Editor, Malcolm Miles. Swets and Zeitlinger, Lisse, Netherlands
2004 Collins, T., (2004) “aesthetic diversity” in “Herman Prigann’s Ecological Aesthetics: Theoretical Practice of Artistic Environmental Design,” ed., Strelow, Heike, Berkhäuser Verlag, AG, Berlin, Germany.

Matthew Cornford

Since graduating in 1991, he has collaborated with David Cross on a critical fine art practice. Cornford & Cross have been included in exhibitions at the ICA, Photographers Gallery and South London Gallery and have exhibited extensively in England also Italy, Norway, Serbia, Sweden and on the East and West coasts of the United States. They carried out an Arts Council residency at the London School of Economics, in 2000; and a British Council residency at Vitamin Creative Space in Guangzhou, China, in 2004. Their most recent solo exhibition opened at the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, Sunderland in December 2005 and is touring to Aspex’s Gallery Portsmouth in February and The Exchange Gallery, Penzance in November 2007.

Clare Cumberlidge
www.generalpublicagency.com

Clare Cumberlidge is director of creative consultancy General Public Agency, founded on May Day 2003 with co-director Lucy Musgrave. GPA has an interdisciplinary team and works across sectors bringing innovative solutions to issues within the public realm. Before co-founding GPA Clare Cumberlidge was one of the UK’s leading independent curators specializing in developing new spaces for artistic practice and supporting socially engaged practice. Over the past 15 years she has developed pioneering approaches to collaborative and cross disciplinary work. Her clients included The British Council, The Science Museum, The Poetry Society, The Architecture Foundation, Arts Council England, Institute of International Visual Arts, NESTA, Wellcome Trust and North Kensington Amenity Trust. Artists she has commissioned include Gillian Wearing, Tim Head, Nils Norman, Jordan Baseman, Cornelia Parker, Yinka Shonibare, Tacita Dean, Brian Catling, Peter Fend, Bridget Smith, Kathrin Böhm, and Adam Chodzko. She serves as an advisory member of the RSA Arts Panel and lectures widely nationally and internationally.

Amanda Farr
www.orieldavies.org

I have been working as a gallery professional since 1990. I originally trained in fine art at the Ruskin School of Drawing, Oxford during the 1970s. After raising a family I undertook a PGCE in Art & Design and an MA in Museum Studies, University of Leicester in the late 1980s. I then worked at New Walk Museum & Art Gallery Leicester for nearly two years before moving to the City Art Centre, Edinburgh, where I worked in exhibition organisation for over four years. From 1996-98 I was Gallery Curator at the Beverley Art Gallery, East Yorkshire and in 1998 I became Director of Oriel Davies in Newtown, Powys, where I am still based.

Oriel Davies is a key visual arts venue in Wales. We are the main contemporary art gallery for the Welsh Border region, and have a strong reputation throughout the UK and beyond. The Gallery originated in 1982 under the name of Oriel 31 and since this time has provided a programme of innovative visual art exhibitions and extensive art education programmes. We are an independent organisation and a registered charity with a Board of Trustees. Oriel Davies is supported by the Arts Council of Wales and Powys County Council. Last financial year our visitor figures exceeded 66,000.


Wapke Feenstra

www.Wapke.nl
www.myvillages.org
www.bibliobox.org

Wapke Feenstra (1959 Wjelsryp, Hennaarderadeel) www.wapke.nl ; studied art at the Jan van Eyckacademie in Maastricht (postgraduate 1991) and works since 1992 as an artist in Rotterdam. Recent outdoor projects are Bathers in Amsterdam (2003) and Bathers in Munich (2005). Recent white cube shows i.e.: Klein Art Works Chicago IL (USA) 2004, Museum of Contemporary Art Heerlen (NL) 2003 & MKgalerie.nl Rotterdam (NL). Cityscapes can be seen i.e. on the internet www.verhalenvandordrecht.nl , ongoing story collection in Dordrecht (NL) 1999-2009, www.woefwoef.nl ,
Arnhem (NL) see the city by following the dog routes 2001, www.huisboomfeest.nl , the cyclic time in a neighbourhood in Tilburg (NL) will be shown in pictures and trees 2005-2010. The works are intended to provoke the viewers’ associations, and are rarely clear-cut. Many of her works comprise part of a presumed larger whole, but you will never see it all at once. The works are making you aware that the perception is a local and subjective moment, cut out by time and space, but never isolated from culture.

Sue Gainsborough
www.thomasadams.org.uk

Sue Gainsborough is the Director of Media Arts at Thomas Adams School and Media Arts College, managing a specialist programme that delivers across North Shropshire and beyond. Sue has over 20 years experience of arts development and of working on transdisciplinary projects, initially as a practitioner and more recently, as a manager and project champion. Over the past 14 years, Sue has chosen to live and work in rural environments and has a long standing interest in contemporary visual arts practice with particular emphasis on digital media and moving image work.

Trudi Graham
www.qube-oca.co.uk

Trudi Graham is Chief Executive of Qube.
Qube is a fully-accessible creative centre which acts as a forum for ideas, a place to involve everyone, an exhibition space for new work, a gallery for emerging and established artists and a link to other centres of arts learning and practice.

Qube is the first Arts and Health focused centre in the West Midlands, challenging attitudes and involving new audiences. Qube Arts is a model for research into health and social issues.

The building was formerly the Queens Hotel and opened as Qube in August 2002 following extensive refurbishment. It is a light, contemporary space embodying inclusion and access. People see, and interact with, new experiences.

David Haley FRSA

Ecological artist, David Haley is a Research Fellow in MIRIAD (Manchester Institute for Research and Innovation in Art and Design) at Manchester Metropolitan University. He is a founding member of SEA: Social and Environmental Arts Research Centre, A&E: Art & Ecology Research Group and he leads the MA Art As Environment programme. Haley is an active member of the Public Art & Urban Design Observatory, the eco-arts network, greenmuseum.org, ACN (Art, Culture, Nature) and a Trustee of Helix Arts, the Mersey Basin Trust and Director of Harrison Studio & Associates (Britain) Ltd. He is, also, a Fellow of the RSA and member of the AHRC Peer Review College. He sits on the Arts Council England/RSA Arts & Ecology Think Tank and the Advisory Board of the Chartered Institute for Water and Environmental Management’s Arts and Environment Programme. In addition to ecological arts commissions, Haley contributes regularly to international journals, publications and conferences. His long-term ecological arts programme for Shrewsbury Museum and Gallery considers creative opportunities for the future of people living with climate change and the River Severn. Current projects include Rivers from the Future that critiques the aesthetic and ethical values of the ‘new suburbia’ over freshwater, A Walk On The Wild Side, commissioned by Urbis to perform a series of community Wild Walks for the Wild Futures exhibition and website in Summer 2007 and Greenhouse Britain: Losing Ground, Gaining Wisdom with Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison to determine how we might ‘withdraw gracefully’ as the sea levels rise.

Torange Khonsari
www.publicworksgroup.net

Torange is Director and founding member of public works, an art/architecture collective consisting of Architects Torange Khonsari, Andreas Lang and artist Kathrin Böhm and partners who have been collaborating in different constellations since 1998.
The team is specialised in participation and design projects for public spaces and institutions. Recent and current projects include Clients in the UK include Camden Council, Siemens Corporate Communications, Peabody Trust, Serpentine Gallery, Sleaford City Council, Gasworks Gallery and Thurrock Council.
public works’ conceptual interest lies in the relationship between institutions who offer and govern public space, and the users of those spaces. Our contribution as artists/architects is to propose and implement communication structures and physical structures that support and make use of the existing local networks and resources, and at the same time offer, propose and stimulate new activities and ways of exchange.

Recent and current project include British Art Show 06;Platforms, a community design project for Braithwaite House London, Park Products for the Serpentine Gallery London, Picture Highhouse, Access and Audience development Study, Purfleet, Thurrock Council, lay-out II, Consultation and Design Project, Gasworks Gallery, London.
Torange is currently artist in residence at Wysing Arts in Cambridgeshire.

Mike Pearson
http://www.mikebrookes.com

Mike Pearson is Professor of Performance Studies in the Department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies, University of Wales, Aberystwyth. He was a member of Cardiff Laboratory Theatre (1973-80) and Brith Gof (1981-97). Since 1997 he has created solo performances, and larger works in collaboration with Mike Brookes. He is co-author with Michael Shanks of ’Theatre/Archaeology’ (2001, Routledge); his monograph ‘In Comes I: Performance, Memory and Landscape’ is published in Janary 2007 by the University of Exeter Press. In late 2006 he received a twelve month research grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council to create three soundworks for an agricultual landscape in North Lincolnshire.

Amy Plant

London based artist, Amy Plant initiates projects in which sensitivity to context and collaboration with communities are key, investigating the nature of ‘public’ spaces and how art can function within them. Her works are invented through dialogue and research and aim to create new democratic spaces in which grass roots cultural productions, diversities, common ground and desires for the future are revealed with equal value, giving rise to new as well as existing ideas and actions. The concept of public space is expanded to include various media including magazines and television programs, as well as new physical structures, such as mobile shops and sound systems – open containers that are given meaning and magic by those who get involved. Past projects have included Contact for the North London Link project – Camden Arts Centre, Valley Vibes, London (in collaboration with Jeanne van Heeswijk) and Laburnum Pilot – a street magazine, at The Drawing Room (in collaboration with Ella Gibbs).

Amy was the 2004 Artist in Residence at the Manukau School of Visual Arts, Auckland, New Zealand. She spent eight weeks working with community activists and students, producing a television program to be broadcast on Triangle TV. At the village convention Amy will talk about her Multi Stop Shop project which traveled and traded throughout the rural areas of County Fingal, Ireland during the summer of 2003.

Adrian Plant
www.mediamaker.tv

Adrian studied Art, Photography and Film at Bournemouth and Poole College of Art (1978-81). After working for museums and galleries across the UK, he joined Tate Liverpool (1989-99) as Outreach Curator to develop projects supporting the gallery’s exhibitions and commissions, such as working with Antony Gormley and a local community to create Field for the British Isles. During this time he completed an MA in Contemporary Art at the University of Liverpool (1995-1998).

In mid-2000 Adrian was appointed the first Exhibitions Officer for Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery, developing a curatorial policy to engage new audiences in ‘… exploring history and locality through the work of contemporary artists.

Since mid-2005 Adrian has also become responsible for curating the work of new media artists at the new Old Market Hall Film and Digital Media Centre, and for developing mediamaker, a new contemporary art network of venues across Shrewsbury.

Adrian is a Trustee of Oriel Davis Gallery, Newtown, Powys (2002-present), and Co-Director of “Spotlight”, a showcase, training and support project for young and emerging musicians in Bishop’s Castle, Shropshire (2004-present).

Antje Schiffers
www.antjeschiffers.de
www.myvillages.org

“I was born in Heiligendorf, a village in northern Germany. I studied linguistics, literature and art and live in Berlin.
Much of my work deals with travelling: drawing a register of flowers in a remote mexican village, like an old-fashioned expedition botanist would have done. Doing paintings for food and accomodation in Italy and in Russia, Kazakhstan, Kirgistan and Uzbekistan. Travelling through eastern europe as correspondent and ambassador of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Leipzig. I also worked as a company artist in the tyre industry and did barter trade with farmers in northern Germany. To tell about my experiences I do lectures, exhibitions, newspapers and books. One of my favourite sentences: They rode along, at once carefree and alert, like recently released thieves in the darkness, like young thieves in a luminous fruit orchard, wearing light jackets and having ten thousand worlds to choose from. (Cormick Mc Carthy, All the pretty horses).”

A solo exhibition will take place in Secession, Vienna, in July 2007.

Mark Segal
www.artsway.org.uk

1999 – Present Director ArtSway Trust Limited
Hampshire, SO41 6BA
1995 – 3.1999 Exhibition Officer (p/t) South Hill Park Arts Centre
Bracknell, Berkshire RG12 7PA
1994 – 1997 Director The Cut Gallery, London SE1 8LW
1991 – 1992 Art Assistant Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne, E. Sussex

Qualifications and training
1990 – 1991 Essex University, MA Museum & Gallery Studies
1986 – 1989 West Surrey College of Art & Design, BA (Hons) Fine Art

Adam Sutherland
www.grizedale.org

Currently director of Grizedale Arts, Cumbria.

Previous employment
Director art.tm gallery and commissioning agency – Scottish Highlands
Freelance artist and educator, multiple residencies, teaching and projects
Director NLM – environmental improvement/arts project in London

Major projects and exhibitions
‘Roadshow’ an on the road programme of contemporary art and artists
‘Romantic Detachment’ PS1 New York, large scale residency and commissioned work programme
’7 Samurai’ residency programme in rural Japan and Tokyo

Selected writing 2006
It’s a Wonderful Life’ – essay on Bedwyr Williams, Oriel Mostyn
Rock a Bye Baby on a Dixie Melody – essay Juneau/projects, Showroom
‘The Captain is Dead, But That’s Ok’ – essay on Olaf Breuning – Chapter Arts

Other
Gallery redevelopment, Lottery project – art.tm
Buildings and farm development – Grizedale Arts

Gavind Wade
www.supportstructure.org

Gavin Wade is an artist-curator, serial collaborator and Research Fellow in Curating at the University of Central England based in Birmingham. His practice combines a number of strategies from developing structures within exhibitions supporting the work of others to a broader enquiry into utopian sites of/for art, resulting in projects merging
fiction, public space and whatever else feels urgent at the time. Recent projects include: Public Structures, Guang Zhou Triennial, China (2005); Support Structure Phase 1-6, with architect Celine Condorelli, various locations (2003-2006); Strategic Questions (2002-200?) an ongoing series of 40 questions/projects in 40 publications; ArtSheffield05:
Spectator T, a cross city project with Sheffield Contemporary Art Forum (2005); Kiosk3: Merz Kiosk (mit Simon & Tom Bloor) Merz, Magazin4, Bregenz, Austria (2006) and Thin Cities, Piccadilly Line Centenary Exhibition, Platform for Art, London Underground (Dec 2006-7).


Richard T. Walker

Shropshire, UK, 1977, lives and works in London
Education
MA Fine Art – Goldsmiths College (2003 – 2005)
Post Graduate Diploma in Fine Art – Goldsmiths College (2002 – 2003)
MA Fine Art at Staffordshire University (2001- 2002) – completed one of two years
BA Fine Art – Bath Spa University C ollege (1996 – 1999)

Solo Shows
2006
every note that I play gets me two chords closer to you (performance) Galeria dels Angels, Barcelona
I’ll be lost when I find you, Galeria Dels Angels, Barcelona

Selected Group shows
2006
Spool 2, Consortium, Amsterdam
Cold Cold Heart, Summerset House, in association with The White Space 37 Where They Shall Dance, FACT, Liverpool;
Don Quijote, Witte de With, Rotterdam, Holland;
Collapse,  An Impakt Event, Utrecht, Holland;
Disconnect, Whitechapel Art Gallery, London;
2005
All personal, VTO Gallery, London;
Transart 05 festival, Bolzano, Italy;
Video Mix, La Casa Encendida, Madrid;
First Sight  inconcepibile e reale Villa Serena, Bologna;
Places I’ve Been, curated by Hans Op De Beeck, Consortium, Amsterdam;

Publications:
La Vangardia (Spain) – October 2006
Flash Art – Summer 2006
Tema Celeste – Italy (November 2005)
Flash Art (Italian edition – august/September 2005)
Art Review 25 (July 2005)
Guestroom (2004)

REPORT AND REVIEW BY KATHRIN BÖHM

Filed under: Uncategorized — ruralartspace @ 6:31 am

Date: April 2007

Introduction

The Rural Art Space symposium was part of a two months programme called Why We Left the Village and came Back that took place as a series of displays, events and discussions across various sites in Shrewsbury and Shropshire during November 2006 and January 2007.

The invitation for the project came from Adrian Plant who is the exhibitions organiser for Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery, and coordinator of the recently established mediamaker programme, that spans across four Shrewsbury venues (including Shrewsbury Museum, the Music Hall Gallery, the Old Market Hall and Belmont Arts Centre). As one of his curatorial strands, Adrian is developing a series of Rurality art commissions in relation to certain rural aspects and particularities of Shrewsbury and its surrounding county Shropshire (the largest inland county and England which still predominantly rural and agricultural).

Kathrin Böhm, who is currently an AHRC Research fellow at the School of Art and Design at the nearby University of Wolverhampton, and a member of the artist initiative myvillages.org and a partner in the art and architecture collective public works, responded to the invitation by suggesting an on-site programme, co-curated by Adrian Plant and myvillages.org, that would conclude in a public symposium as a joint venture between the School of Art and Design, Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery and myvillages.org.

The intention of the overall Why We Left the Village and came Back programme was

- to present and discuss existing art and curatorial projects that take place in rural environments
- to open up and further inform a local and regional discourse on contextual art practice in a rural context
- to regard the curated programme in itself as a precedence for creating and extending the existing art spaces in Shrewsbury and Shropshire.

The Why We Left the Village and came Back programme took place in different formats:

Displays and exhibitions
The selection of case studies for the exhibitions drew from the Bibliobox, a myvillages.org project conceived by Wapke Feenstra, which brings together documentation of more than 50 art projects that took place in rural environments across 11 European countries. The selection for the exhibition spaces showed projects by the three myvillages.org members. At the Music Hall Gallery Antje Schiffers’ project I like being a farmer and want to stay one was represented through video documentation, photographic reproduction and quotes by farmer’s who have been involved in her project.
Kathrin Böhm’s Höfer Goods project at the Museum was presented amongst a selection of items from the Museum’s porcelain collection, accompanied by a document, which explained the development of the Höfer Goods.
Wapke Feenstra’s Bibliobox was housed at Belmont Art Centre, where it was set up for display and further travel, but also became the backdrop for a workshop asking the question “What does Shropshire sound like?”

Film Programme
The film programme for the Old Market Hall Cinema was also selected from the Bibliobox, and showcased the film Harvest by Anne Lise Stenseth, Amy Plant’s One Stop Shop video, The expansion of the Mastenbroek Polder documentary by Sjaak Langenberg, A Village does Nothing by Elisabeth Schimana and Markus Seidl, the full length feature film Bata-ville. We are not afraid of the Future by the artist collective Somewhere, and a selection of videos by Richard T. Walker. The programme was shown daily, free of charge and open to the general public.

Bibliobox Tour across Shropshire
The Bibliobox itself toured to a number of private and public spaces in Shropshire and Wales, including the front room of one of the SAD MA students who used the occasion to invite her local artist network, a local pub, a writer’s retreat, a discovery centre, a gallery and a local new media college.

Rural Art Space as a local topic
It was important from the start of the project, not to present a retrospective of existing work, but to use the BBBox documentation to explore new spaces for art and art debate in Shrewsbury and Shropshire. This aspect gains further importance in regards to the current undergoing development of the Museum Services in Shrewsbury, the design of new facilities for Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery, and the aim to establish a Rurality Commission series in the future.
The development of Shrewsbury Museum and Gallery is further strengthening Shrewsbury’s position as a cultural resource hub in the area, and the new facility and extended programme will have to consider its spatial and programmatic relationships with the surrounding county and its various cultural groups. Currently Shropshire doesn’t have a networked infrastructure of cultural spaces, and new Rurality commissions will be confronted by the question of where and how to site commissions in order to establish a relational and context specific curatorial programme.

Rural Art Space as the title and content for the symposium
The curatorial idea behind the conference was to focus the morning presentations on art and cultural practices in regards to their involvement with social, political and physical spaces. The afternoon sessions were structured around issues that were of local/regional interest and allowed for presenters and delegates to enter a more participative discursive space, and the workshops allowed for cross-regional networking.

The morning presentations started with Adrian Plant and Mary White from Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery with a brief introduction into the main curatorial principle for the contemporary art programme at the Museum, and an explanation of Shrewsbury’s current situation in regards to cultural regeneration of the town and the development of the Museum Services.

Clare Cumberlidge from General Public Agency focused on the large scale and multidisciplinary project Thurrock: A Visionary Brief for the Thames Gateway to describe the underlying spatial and curatorial strategies of a project that aimed to involve and embed cultural production directly into an ongoing regeneration scheme. She added the subtitle A Study of Failure and gave a self-critical and useful analysis of why the ambitions of the projects were never implemented.
In spatial terms the failure could be described as the result of a non-addressed gap between an inter/national network of practitioners that were involved in generating the visionary brief, and the local council and council officers who would have been in charge of implementing it. As a strategy the project bridged a vast area of physical and cultural territories, but missed to secure its immediate compatibility by not actively involving the local spaces of power and implementation.

Kathrin Böhm focused her paper Art as Space versus Spaces for Art on exploring the question of what the existing or a new rural art space might look like, and how contextual art practice could contribute to the development of a new spatial typology that is particular to the rural environment, rather than importing urban architectural typologies such as museum and public square commissions. She was looking at socially engaged practices and process based and collaborative forms of production as methodologies that seem suitable to represent and extract existing rural modes and models.

Adam Sutherland from Grizedale Arts in the Lake District gave a good insight into an arts organisation that acts across spaces, both locally, nationally and internationally, and is not represented or contained by a single dominant building. His presentation was based on the idea of Curating Networks and demonstrated Grizedale’s wide spanning social and professional network that manifests itself in very different situations and spaces, from hillsides in Wales to dinners at PS 1 in New York. Grizedale’s curatorial premise follows the question Why people are doing what they do, which allows for a much more open and cross-networking cultural programme than one based on the idea of themes and groups. The programme highly inclusive, makes no difference of different forms of cultural productions and generates an interesting cross-programming and sampling of different cultural practices. The Grizedale programme in itself could be seen as a description and a brief for a new rural art space.

Wapke Feenstra and Antje Schiffers from myvillages.org finished the morning session with a recount of the Bibliobox tour through Shropshire. Their presentations were meant as a mapping of existing and potential art spaces, rather than a documentation of the tour.

Rural Art Space as part of Kathrin Böhm’s research
Kathrin Böhm’s research at Wolverhampton is focusing on the potential of socially engaged art practice in regards to the making and shaping of public space. Her research shifted from initially looking at the direct application of art practice to a design process, and is now concentrating on analysing the space making capacity of art practice itself. What has become clear during her research so far is that art projects that engage with a site and its users over an extended period of time, do create complex socio-spatial constructs which are often being neglected when it comes to planning and design decisions.
She is currently looking at the articulation of those socio-spatial constructs, and modes of representation that allow the mapping and visualisation of sociala nd cultural networks. The two case studies she has chosen to analyse and represent as part of her research outcome are the Folkestone Sculpture Triennale and Grizedale Arts. Both projects take place within areas of culture led regeneration. Both are curatorial programmes that invite a number of artists to respond to the particularities of a place and they both spread over a wider geographical area and longer periods of time. The research will result in a spatial mapping of both projects, including and reflecting the spaces and networks they use the nature and duration of those relationships, and the relationships they create. The aim is to visualise complex and relational cultural practices in spatial terms with the intention

- to claim them as architectural spaces in their own right
- to analyse them in regards to the development of new typologies of cultural spaces
- to relate them to more conventional forms of architectural development and design in order to question the authority and hierarchy of the built structure.

Art practices are involved in urban and rural regeneration, with the urban fields of practice more explored and discussed than rural models. It’s therefore of interest to look at rural regeneration and to reconsider urban models or practice, with the ambition to generate a curatorial and artist approach that responds to the particularities of a rural context, and ideally can lead to new forms and typologies of rural practice and art spaces.

The day was part of an extended programme and multiple collaborations, and can be reviewed from different angles.

The symposium as an enactment of a rural art space
The symposium created a meeting and networking point across the region and nationally. The event was fully booked and 84 participants in total contributed to the day, including individual artists, art students, representatives of rural cultural organisations and initiatives and researchers. The different formats of presentations and exchange throughout the day allowed for both, information gathering and reflection, and more active discussions and networking amongst practitioners. There was significant interest in the issue, and a strong enough public to make use of the space on offer and to carry the issue forward.

The propositional nature of the symposium
The symposium as a format is an informative and discursive event that relies on a network and audience but can take place in existing spaces and venues. The symposium can be seen as one possible format and space to establish and extend the rural art space in Shropshire and the region, and could become part of a national and international network of conferences and symposia on rural cultural issues.
As a well attended event the day also represented an existing critical mass and audience, which within rural environments are often widespread and become rarely visible as a group or networks.
The day proofed that the Rural Art Space is an important issue, both in order to develop a clearer identity of what rural art and rural culture is and could be, but also in terms of thinking spatial and strategic models for the future.

Enabling new partnerships
The symposium was a joint venture between myvillages.org, Shrewsbury Museum and Art gallery and the School of Art and Design at the University of Wolverhampton. Links between the three partners existed previously but haven’t been utilised so far. The School of Art and Design represents the regional Higher Education and Research Institution with a teaching and research strand in socially engaged art practice, Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery represent a local and regional arts organisation with a curatorial interest in rural cultural practise, and myvillages.org represents a trans-local artist and practitioners network.
The day was attended by guest from all three partners which generated a well balanced mix between students and University staff, rural arts organisations and practitioners. The mix of partners also represents the necessary cultural diversity when it comes to addressing and enabling a new Rural Art Space, where practice meets curation meets education meets research.

Creating a pool of information, case studies and reflections to inform the further development of Shrewsbury Museum Services and Rurality commissions.
The two months programme together with the symposium, offered and activated multiple resources, which can be assessed in regards to their relevance for the Development of the Museum Services. Adrian Plant is planning to use the report and online presence of the material in further meeting and discussions. Some of the case studies can be assessed as, and act as prototypes for new initiatives in Shropshire.

Articulation of a new term and subject: The Rural Art Space
The term Rural Art Space sounded very Euro-english to begin with, and rather dry than engaging. However, at the end of the symposium day it seemed to have become a common term amongst delegates.
To date there is little cohesive documentation of interesting art and curatorial projects in the rural realm (in comparison to engaged practices in urban areas) which keeps both, art practice in the rural and the existing rural art space, rather invisible. This lack of representation and publication of activities
Needs to be addressed in order to find and understand the particularities of contemporary rual culture in order to develop new curatorial and spatial programmes.
The main thesis of Kathrin Böhm’s paper was to consider and develop a new typology of space for the rural context, which might be spread across sites and time, with the ambition to engage art practice into the development and understanding of contemporary rural culture is and could be and its spatial manifestation.

Text by Kathrin Böhm
April 2007

May 24, 2007

BBIBLIOBOX TOUR SHROPSHIRE

Filed under: Uncategorized — ruralartspace @ 3:24 pm

The Bibliobox is a travelling archive holding documentation of almost 50 art projects
from 12 european countires that took place in rural environments.

The Bibliobox was a central part of Why We Left The Village And Came Back the Bibliobox was stationed at Belmont Art Centre in Shrewsbury. From there it travelled to a number of locations in Shropshire, on invitation by different hosts and also spontaneously without invitations.

The Bibliobox is as much a collection of art projects as it is a space for talking about art in a rural setting. The concept of the tour was to explore existing spaces and networks in Shropshire and to test and demonstrate the idea of a dispersed but connected cultural space.

The journeys are also documented on the Bibliobox website.
Look at the visit at Marja’s house, An evening at the Six Bells pub in Bishops Castle, or at The Hurst in Clunton.

May 1, 2007

WHY WE LEFT THE VILLAGE AND CAME BACK LAUNCH

Filed under: Uncategorized — ruralartspace @ 11:33 am

Artists Kathrin Böhm and Wapke Feenstra, from myvillages.org, will introduce their organisation and Bibliobox, a travelling archive of documentation and information, set up by myvillages.org in 2005. Together with Adrian Plant of Shrewsbury Museums Service and mediamaker, they will present the ideas behind Why We Left the Village and Came Back and invite participants to discuss how the commission might be developed for Shropshire.

WAPKE FEENSTRA EXPLAINS THE BIBLIOBOX

Filed under: Uncategorized — ruralartspace @ 8:41 am

Member of myvillags.org and creator of the Bibliobox
HOW DOES THE BIBLIOBOX WORK
A brief introduction into creating a space for display and discurs

THE START

Ditchling “Village Convention”, was a gathering of 40 practitioners from mainly North West Europe, which took place from 20th to 22nd May 2005 in Ditchling, East Sussex, UK, to address contextual art practice in rural environments
They all brought documentation of their own art practises. I asked them at the end of the convention to give the documentation to set up a bibliobox, and Ditchling became the first collecting point for the archive. The present content is a collection via myvillages.org contacts from 2003 till now. More than 50 different art projects from 11 European Countries are presented and represented in the box.
On location and in action, the Bibliobox facilitates exchange and comparison of ideas in regards to the production of contextual art in the rural environment. All books, DVD’s and audio documentation in the box is about arts projects that engage actively with the context and a rural public, and the nature of the box reflects those facts.

WHAT IS THE BIBLIOBOX?
The box itself is made from plywood and coated with polyester finish.
The Bibliobox is a travelling archive; it contains information about art projects in the rural context. To bring it somewhere it needs a host, a table and a plug.
It is a small box with big ideas and comes and goes as a mobile unit to the countryside. Like myself right now.
On invitation by a local host, the box can travel to a village and be opened up for presentations. The programme of the presentation lies within the responsibility of the host. The host may be a local artist, an art institute, a farmer, the local fire department or a village group.

WHAT DOES THE BIBLIOBOX DO?
In a rural context, the box offers a broader view of people living in similar situations in other rural areas. It presents an opportunity for people to share experiences from art periphery to art periphery, also through the website. The box informs on the diversity of village life and art. It invites people to make their own contribution to contemporary art. Inhabitants of rural areas are being inundated with floods of images when the countryside tries to develop new functions, but are rarely considered a potential audience for contemporary art. The Bibliobox can change this outlook.


HOW IS THE BIBLIOBOX ORGANISED?

BOOKLETS
Every country represented in the box has a small booklet in which the projects from that country are described. There is also short information about how the artists interacted with the village or rural environment. It’s the same text as on the website.

BY LOCATION
Why organize it geographically and not by artist or date or commissioner? A retired acquaintance who had worked for more than 20 years in an architecture library advised me to do this, because the box is about rural places, and what is happening there.

POSTCARDS
There are also postcards in the box to be sent around, and information sheets about the box in the local language. Today got an English information sheet in the conference map

HOW TO GET THE BOX? WHAT TO DO?
Go to the website.
Download the contract, sign it and sent it to me.
Having the box around is for free, you only pay for the transport and insurance.
Download the manual.
The box is easier to pack out and is easier to set up than a simple camping tent.

Most people who order the box also order me or the whole myvillages.org group.
This costs a bit more of course.

EXAMPLES
At KCO, a cultural organization in the East of Holland, I spent for example an afternoon with six men from the cultural board of the local government. We had a workshop with rural background drawings, films from the box and me reading poetry.
At the Creative Rural Economy Conference in Lancaster we met Swedish ecological farmers and artists called Kultivator they talked about their planned Harvest Feast and asked if the BBBox could go there. Then BBBox went from Lancaster straight to Sweden – without us this time.

In the contract the host agrees to take pictures of the different presentations with the BBBox.
Pictures from each location are online, together with a small report written by the host. The report tells about the occasion, the context and an online a link to the host’s website, and we ask eachg host to suggest new entries for the BBBox.

GOAL
The idea of the box is to extend the network of myvillages.org and connect art periphery to art periphery – spread and collect experiences and create possibilities to meet and talk about the rural art space. Inform each other about locations and local knowledge used in that area, and above all we are just curious on what happens elsewhere. So this box also has a own story and is roaming the rural for us and sometimes with us.

Wapke Feenstra is a Rotterdam based artits and member of myvillages.org and creator of the Bibliobox.

Contact myvillages.org to order the Bibliobox at info(at)bibliobox.org

BIBLIOBOX TOUR REPORT BY ANTJE SCHIFFERS

Filed under: Uncategorized — ruralartspace @ 8:36 am

Member of myvillages.org
BIBLIOBOX TOUR REPORT

May I first introduce myself: My name is Antje.
I am one of the founders of myvillages.org and on this occasion I have the function to report about Bibliobox tour in Shropshire.

We arrived a week ago. I must admit: I did not see such a dark night for a long time, with the storm and the water gurgling in the ditches.
As reporters it was our first duty to research what had already happened to the box. That’s what we found out:

It has travelled to Wales.
Invited by an artist living in a remote place in the welsh countryside, Kathrin went there with the box. The artist had invited collegues of hers. We saw pictures of women and babies. The box and ist content were taken as an opportunity to show around portfolios and show each others’ art work, which surprisingly had not happened before.

Talking of we: may I also introduce my colleagues to you: Thomas and Iwan, standing in front of the Old Market Hall in Shrewsbury.

One friendly, one strict, following the famous good guy bad guy scheme in our work. Together we have of course much better investigative power than one alone would have had.

The second thing we found out about: A workshop has taken place in Wem. Initiated by Wapke. Students created a soundpiece for the Bibliobox which in the future will travel with it: “How does Shropshire sound like?”
We attended a meeting of the “Friends of the Museum” in Shrewsbury. It took place at 2:30 pm. We concluded that it must be a big honour to be a friend of the museum, and that the honour must be so big that people would leave their workplace beginning of the afternoon to attend a meeting. We were slightly wrong. The friends of the museum were very nice and all retired.
In the meeting a film by artist Paul Bush was shown. Some of the audience understood that we were the artists who made the film and made us compliments for the lovely artwork. To avoid being a deception, we did not reveal the truth.

_newtown_wales.jpg

We went to the beautiful Oriel Davies Gallery in Newtown, Wales, were the box was taken to a board meeting. I remember that the women were listening to a Bruce Springsteen song while doing the cleaning in the cafe.

In the Discovery Centre in Craven Arms the box stayed during Sunday’s lunchtime, placed in between people having curry or lasagne and the handcraft, maps and bird food displayed in the museum shop. We happened to meet a taxidermist.

_bishopscastle.jpg

Sunday night, all went to a pub in Bishopscastle, Adrian’s hometown. He had invited the box, some friends, most of them musicians, and his two sons, musicians too. Something we learnt in this session: a cat’s purring heals broken bones.
Provoked by the subject of travelling the plot of a recently published book was told: Because of a bet a men hiked around Ireland carrying a fridge. What was most remarkable for the one telling the story: The bet was about 100 pounds, but already the fridge cost 120.

Good advice for childrens education was offered: Pick a house some miles out of the village “ the village as a place offering some things children might desire “ so you can always blackmail your kids promising a lift it they behave.

While driving through beautiful Shropshire “ and still impressed by its wealth “ we imagined other places where it could make sense for the box to go:

It could meet a tourism development officer or a rural regeneration officer. There we probably would discuss promotion strategies or he would make a masterplan about how to integrate it into the new regeneration campaign: Shropshire “ Britain´s best kept secret!”

It could go to the cattle market. We would go in the early morning hours. People used to getting up early have more respect if you do the same.
Here you see a hut belonging to the National trust. If we put the box there, we could get entangled in discussions about the necessity of contemporary art – how important is it compared to the beware of the heritage or of nature? OR: What is more beautiful, nature or art?

As we now entered the domain of fiction:
A Shrewsbury based artist invited us to meet her travelling archive in a place where parts of it are stored: in the Hurst, a location belonging to Clunton and offering writing courses.

It smelled like professional cleaning when we arrived and had coffee and fruit cake with Kerry, one of the nice directors of the Hurst. We had a discussion about what to do with archives currently unused and then gave a privileged personal BBBox presentation in this cosy living room of the absent writers.

As reporters we are looking for adventures. We like to be taken to places and to meet people we never would have met without the subject of the research / the existence of the BBBox.

And, leaving my duty as a reporter behind and speaking as part of myvillages.org: That is something we like to happen with the BBBox and with myvillages.org as an organisation – and we hope we can also make it happen for some of those we get to know in the process.

To download Antje’s report press here.

SYMPOSIUM REVIEW BY RICHARD HEPENSTAL

Filed under: Uncategorized — ruralartspace @ 8:02 am

GETTING BACK TO THE COUNTRY
AN “IMPASSIONED DELIBERATION”

“Artists often act in the interstices between old and new, in the possibility of spaces that are as yet socially unrecognisable” (1)

In 2003 Shrewsbury’s 16th century Old Market Hall was transformed into a Film Theatre and Digital Media Centre. The manner in which the latter was undertaken was not only sensitive to the original interior architecture, but the final outcome revealed the distinctive timber roofbeams that had hitherto been “hidden” from sight. Moreover, it returned the building to that of a significant public space, one that attracts visitors from across the county. As a result, the relationship, or dialogue, between the old and the new, was literally manifested by the environment in which the Rural Art Space symposium began. This location, it seemed, provided a most useful context, or “space”, into which to consider the future possibilities of contemporary art and curatorial practice within a rural context. Indeed the opening speakers, from Shrewsbury’s Museum and Art Gallery, stressed the importance of connecting the “old” with the “new” in their programming and curatorial practices.
The morning’s first presentation was by the General Public Agency, an organisation that works creatively within the areas of planning and regeneration seeking to “make change happen”. Central to this organisation’s way of working is the idea of substantial mapping and research, in the pre-planning stage, followed by a “process of exchange” that engages local people. However, what became apparent from the case study discussed was the importance of time in the effecting of change. That is, the suggestion that lasting change doesn’t happen quickly but takes place over a long period of time. Significantly this “issue of time”, became one of the recurring themes of the day.
The symposium’s second presentation was delivered by Kathrin Böhm, artist member of myvillages.org and Research Fellow at The University of Wolverhampton. This presentation took the form of a research paper in which she considered the role, or potential, of “socially-engaged” art practices that take place beyond the gallery walls in a variety of outside spaces; art practices in which participation and dialogue are central. Could these practices themselves, her paper proposed, be read as “spatial constructs”? To illustrate this proposition Kathrin related how, after developing her own art practice in the city, she returned to her childhood village and the latter became, both conceptually and literally, a new space for art. Central to the development of these new, as yet “unrecognisable”, spaces for art were strategies that encompassed experimentation and rigorous self-criticism (on the part of the artist), participation (on the part of the audience), and an emphasis on “common interests” (both parties). Perhaps this suggests a conception of space as ” meeting ground”. Again the issue of time reoccurred in the papers’ recognition of the importance of “slow growth” in generating meaningful change within a rural environment.
Next we were taken on a humorous stroll through the work of Grizedale Arts; an “arts institution” or, possibly more accurately, an “arts network” based in the Lake District. Grizedale are certainly approaching artistic activity and production in a new way. Having recently “got rid” of their gallery, one of their key areas of work is engaging with people, through participation in art, in ways that are genuinely meaningful to local “non-art” communities. Alongside seeking, and valuing, the importance of local knowledge, and finding common ground, provocation, tension and conflict, where also seen by this speaker as useful tools, or “strategies”, in the development of arts across a rural terrain. Again there seemed to be a genuine interest in “making change happen”, and simultaneously an acknowledgment that real change can only happen over the long-term.
Finally the morning’s presentations ended with a review of the Bibliobox’s tour in Shropshire. Certainly the box seems to have a life of its own; continually chancing upon new “lasting encounters”, creating new networks and, as one encountee of the box suggested, providing opportunities for sharing work: something that doesn’t happen often.
In the afternoon I attended the “rural as a source for contextual art practice” workshop. This began with a presentation by the artist Richard Walker whose works engage with the landscape by way of, an almost ‘post-romantic’, sense of the impossibility of truly knowing, or coming to terms with, the immensity of that rural environment. The works take the form of spoken dialogue, music and video and seek to investigate our interaction(s) with the rural landscape. The characters within his work also view the rural as an idealised, albeit problematic, “escape from society”. Richard approaches the distinctly traditional subject of “landscape art” in an innovative way, both in his use of moving image and in his self-reflective responses to the rural landscapes in which he “encounters”.
Richard’s presentation was followed by the artist Matthew Cornford, one half of Cornford and Cross, whose collaborative arts practice produce works that critically engage with the specific contexts, situations, or spaces in which those works are produced. Often the result of this is an undermining, or problematizing, of the dominant power structures that exist within those spaces. Their work seems particularly successful in exposing the connections between cultural, economic and political interests. In the light of recent events (2) one example of this type of work, their piece “New Holland”, seems worth mentioning. Drawing on the links between Norfolk’s heavily industrialised agricultural landscape and the supermarkets that support that industry, they constructed a “turkey breeding unit”, from plans provided by Bernard Matthews, in the grounds adjoining the Sainsbury’s Centre for Visual Arts in Norwich. Arguably, this clash between the industrialised rural economy and the elegant grounds of the Sainsbury’s Centre, proved too great for the exhibition’s organisers. As, prior to the arrival of the Sainsbury’s family for their annual visit, the piece was removed. However, as it was installed in the summer, the grass beneath the structure had turned yellow. Instead of letting the meadow grass return naturally to its original colour, the yellow area was replaced with brand new grass, and this newly planted vivid green rectangle became a perfect trace of the original work.
Finally Torange Khonsari an architect and member of public works, discussed the arts/architecture collective’s latest residency at Wysing. Looking at how people use public spaces and engage with their environment, Torange talked about using the idea of a “shared culture of walking” to explore the links between villages around Wysing. She suggested how existing “informal paths” could become a tool in the development of “people-led” networks in the area. As with the previous presentation issues relating to land, and public, ownership were raised. (Notably, Torange cited a conversation with Kevin Cahill, author of the comprehensively researched book “Who owns Britain” )(3)
Ultimately, what was most evident from many of the presentations was an underlying recognition of the relationship between art and the wider social and political worlds. Although ostensibly about “public art” (4) the following statement, by Patricia Phillips, seems particularly relevant to many of the symposium’s presentation’s concerns with interactive or collaborative art practices (and therefore, I feel, worth quoting in full):

“Public Art is not the grinding, arduous discovery of a common denominator that absolutely everyone will understand and endorse. It actually assists in the identification of individuals and groups and what separates them, so that agreement of a common purpose is an impassioned deliberation rather than a thoughtless resignation. ” (5)

The acknowledgment of a “common purpose”, together with the simultaneous recognition of “what separates” people, and, critically, the call for an “impassioned deliberation”, seems to reflect what took place during the symposium.
Following the close of a thoughtful event centred around the, problematic, subject of “rural art space”, the atmosphere amongst many of the delegates was one of tangible energy. Consequently, I left with a positive, even tentatively hopeful, sense of something beginning: a key moment for the arts in Shrewsbury and Shropshire. Undoubtedly the breadth of knowledge, broad range of interests and occupations gathered in one space was exceptional. And although there was no convergence in terms of defining rural art space, there was, I felt, a common purpose. And that, I believe, was an impassioned advocacy of the growing significance of the rural as a fertile space for contemporary art practice. What’s more, the event in itself served as a vehicle for deliberation and therefore, implicitly, endorsed the relevance of slow growth in generating lasting change within a predominantly rural environment. Finally, and perhaps most meaningfully, these “impassioned deliberations”will support the expansion of those networks of people interested in developing the “spaces for art” across rural environments.

Footnotes:

(1) Lippard, Lucy, from “Mixed Blessings” (originally published in 1990), quoted in a Gavin Jantjes (ed), A Fruitful Incoherence: Dialogues with Artists on Internationalism, London, 1997
(2) At the time of writing the poultry industry has been dominating news headlines, as over 160,000 turkeys were culled after the H5N1 strain, bird flu virus, was found at a turkey processing plant in Suffolk in February 2007.
(3) Cahill, Kevin, Who Owns Britain, Edinburgh, 2001
(4) The book from which the following quote is taken looks at artists working outside of traditional venues for art, and rather than seeing those artists as the creators of art objects, many of the case studies included suggest how these artists are now often adopting strategies analogous to social activism and politics.
(5) Phillips, Patricia, “Public Constructions”, Suzanne Lacy (ed), Mapping the Terrain: New Genre Public Art, Washington, 1995
text by Richard Hepenstal
February 2007

SYMPOSIUM REVIEW BY RICHARD HEPENSTAL

Filed under: Uncategorized — ruralartspace @ 8:01 am

GETTING BACK TO THE COUNTRY

AN “IMPASSIONED DELIBERATION”

“Artists often act in the interstices between old and new, in the possibility of spaces that are as yet socially unrecognisable”

In 2003 Shrewsbury’s 16th century ‘Old Market Hall’ was transformed into a Film Theatre and Digital Media Centre. The manner in which the latter was undertaken was not only sensitive to the original interior architecture, but the final outcome revealed the distinctive timber roofbeams that had hitherto been ‘hidden’ from sight. Moreover, it returned the building to that of a significant public space, one that attracts visitors from across the county. As a result, the relationship, or dialogue, between the old and the new, was literally manifested by the environment in which the Rural Art Space symposium began. This location, it seemed, provided a most useful context, or ‘space’, into which to consider the future possibilities of contemporary art and curatorial practice within a rural context. Indeed the opening speakers, from Shrewsbury’s Museum and Art Gallery, stressed the importance of connecting the ‘old’ with the ‘new’ in their programming and curatorial practices.
The morning’s first presentation was by the General Public Agency, an organisation that works creatively within the areas of planning and regeneration seeking to ‘make change happen’. Central to this organisation’s way of working is the idea of substantial mapping and research, in the pre-planning stage, followed by a ‘process of exchange’ that engages local people. However, what became apparent from the case study discussed was the importance of ‘time’ in the effecting of change. That is, the suggestion that lasting change doesn’t happen quickly but takes place over a long period of time. Significantly this ‘issue of time’, became one of the recurring themes of the day.
The symposium’s second presentation was delivered by Kathrin Bohm, artist member of myvillages.org and Research Fellow at The University of Wolverhampton. This presentation took the form of a research paper in which she considered the role, or potential, of ‘socially-engaged’ art practices that take place beyond the gallery walls in a variety of ‘outside’ spaces; art practices in which participation and ‘dialogue’ are central. Could these practices themselves, her paper proposed, be read as ‘spatial constructs’? To illustrate this proposition Kathrin related how, after developing her own art practice in the city, she returned to her childhood village and the latter became, both conceptually and literally, a new space for art. Central to the development of these new, as yet ‘unrecognisable’, spaces for art were strategies that encompassed experimentation and rigorous self-criticism (on the part of the artist), participation (on the part of the ‘audience’), and an emphasis on ‘common interests’ (both parties). Perhaps this suggests a conception of space as a ‘meeting ground’. Again the issue of time reoccurred in the papers’ recognition of the importance of ‘slow growth’ in generating meaningful change within a rural environment.
Next we were taken on a humorous stroll through the work of Grizedale Arts; an ‘arts institution’ or, possibly more accurately, an ‘arts network’ based in the Lake District. Grizedale are certainly approaching artistic activity and production in a new way. Having recently ‘got rid’ of their gallery, one of their key areas of work is engaging with people, through participation in art, in ways that are genuinely meaningful to local ‘non-art’ communities. Alongside seeking, and valuing, the importance of local knowledge, and finding common ground, provocation, tension and conflict, where also seen by this speaker as useful tools, or ‘strategies’, in the development of arts across a rural terrain. Again there seemed to be a genuine interest in ‘making change happen’, and simultaneously an acknowledgment that real change can only happen over the long-term.
Finally the morning’s presentations ended with a review of the Bibliobox’s tour in Shropshire. Certainly the box seems to have a life of its own; continually chancing upon new ‘lasting encounters’, creating new networks and, as one encountee of the box suggested, providing opportunities for sharing work: ‘something that doesn’t happen often’.
In the afternoon I attended the ‘rural as a source for contextual art practice’ workshop. This began with a presentation by the artist Richard Walker whose works engage with the landscape by way of, an almost ‘post-romantic’, sense of the impossibility of truly knowing, or coming to terms with, the immensity of that rural environment. The works take the form of spoken dialogue, music and video and seek to investigate our interaction(s) with the rural landscape. The ‘characters’ within his work also view the ‘rural’ as an idealised, albeit problematic, ‘escape from society’. Richard approaches the distinctly traditional subject of ‘landscape art’ in an innovative way, both in his use of moving image and in his self-reflective responses to the rural landscapes in which he ‘encounters’.
Richard’s presentation was followed by the artist Matthew Cornford, one half of ‘Cornford and Cross’, whose collaborative arts practice produce works that critically engage with the specific contexts, situations, or ‘spaces’ in which those works are produced. Often the result of this is an undermining, or problematizing, of the dominant power structures that exist within those spaces. Their work seems particularly successful in exposing the connections between cultural, economic and political interests. In the light of recent events one example of this type of work, their piece ‘New Holland’, seems worth mentioning. Drawing on the links between Norfolk’s heavily industrialised agricultural landscape and the supermarkets that support that industry, they constructed a ‘turkey breeding unit’, from plans provided by Bernard Matthews, in the grounds adjoining the Sainsbury’s Centre for Visual Arts in Norwich. Arguably, this ‘clash’ between the industrialised rural economy and the ‘elegant’ grounds of the Sainsbury’s Centre, proved too great for the exhibition’s organisers. As, prior to the arrival of the Sainsbury’s family for their annual visit, the piece was removed. However, as it was installed in the summer, the grass beneath the structure had turned yellow. Instead of letting the ‘meadow grass’ return naturally to its original colour, the ‘yellow area’ was replaced with brand new grass, and this newly planted ‘vivid green rectangle’ became a perfect trace of the original work.
Finally Torange Khonsari an architect and member of public works,
discussed the arts/architecture collective’s latest residency at Wysing. Looking at how people use public spaces and engage with their environment, Torange talked about using the idea of a ’shared culture of walking’ to explore the links between villages around Wysing. She suggested how existing ‘informal paths’ could become a tool in the development of ‘people-led’ networks in the area. As with the previous presentation issues relating to land, and ‘public’, ownership were raised. (Notably, Torange cited a conversation with Kevin Cahill, author of the comprehensively researched book ‘Who owns Britain’ )
Ultimately, what was most evident from many of the presentations was an underlying recognition of the relationship between art and the wider social and political worlds. Although ostensibly about ‘public art’ the following statement, by Patricia Phillips, seems particularly relevant to many of the symposium’s presentations’ concerns with interactive or collaborative art practices (and therefore, I feel, worth quoting in full):

Public Art is not the grinding, arduous discovery of a common denominator that absolutely everyone will understand and endorse. It actually assists in the identification of individuals and groups and what separates them, so that agreement of a common purpose is an impassioned deliberation rather than a thoughtless resignation.

The acknowledgment of a ‘common purpose’, together with the simultaneous recognition of ‘what separates’ people, and, critically, the call for an ‘impassioned deliberation’, seems to reflect what took place during the symposium.
Following the close of a thoughtful event centred around the, problematic, subject of ‘rural art space’, the atmosphere amongst many of the delegates was one of tangible ‘energy’. Consequently, I left with a positive, even tentatively hopeful, sense of something beginning: a ‘key moment’ for the arts in Shrewsbury and Shropshire. Undoubtedly the breadth of knowledge, broad range of interests and occupations gathered in one space was exceptional. And although there was no convergence in terms of defining ‘rural art space’, there was, I felt, a ‘common purpose’. And that, I believe, was an ‘impassioned’ advocacy of the growing significance of ‘the rural’ as a fertile space for contemporary art practice. What’s more, the event in itself served as a vehicle for deliberation and therefore, implicitly, endorsed the relevance of slow growth in generating lasting change within a predominantly rural environment. Finally, and perhaps most meaningfully, these ‘impassioned deliberations’ will support the expansion of those networks of people interested in developing the ‘spaces for art’ across rural environments.

Richard Hepenstal
February 2007

To download the review as pdf please klick here.

VIDEO BOOTH

Filed under: Uncategorized — ruralartspace @ 7:55 am

The New Media College in Wem has interviewed delegates thorughout the day to give short feedbacks and talk about some of their ideas.

To watch the short video klick here.

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