Sunday, May 4, 2008

Longhouse Publication Launches

Stoke-on-Trent imagined - Coronation street style houses - factories and not much more.
In November 2007, 9 artists, plus two lead artists; Tim Knowles and Sophie Hope, hooked up in Stoke-on-Trent to meet with architects, city planners, members of the community and the council's arts development team to discuss the public realm areas of the city. The artists would spend a few days walking the city, and discussing approaches to public art in its broadest sense - in order to generate proposals for artistic interventions around Stoke-on-Trent. I was lucky enough to be one of those artists.
11 artists sign.
Longhouse, who organised this amazing opportunity, offer artistic development for artists working in the public realm and looking at cities. Among the opportunities offered are this one, the PAD (professional artist development) and the longer opportunity - Action Research - for individual artists to work on a particular and more sustained project.
The project was different for me, to some of the other artists - as this is where I live, so I know the faults and the plus points of the city more intimately, and could not be so objective as the others about what needs to happen here - what a funny position. The process forced me to remember what I had thought about the city back in 1997 when I first moved here - how I imagined a city full of Coronation street style houses, and endless factory chimneys. It also got me thinking about what I think of the place now, ten years later, and what my hopes are for this place, which has become my home.
Camera Obscura - a way of reframing the city for the people of Stoke-on-Trent, but more importantly, an opportunity to ask them about what they think about the bottle oven shape, often used to represent the city.
I came up with three specific proposals as a result of the residency, and these can be viewed along with the responses of the other 8 artists here.
The resulting publication showing all of these responses and a document of the days we spent together will be launched on Friday, May 16th from the AirSpace Gallery. It will be a chance for the group to return to the city, and discuss the impact that the residency has had on ourselves and our practices, for me this difference has been significant - an eye-opening opportunity to reframe the city around me, which I hope to repeat and instigate for others through my collaborations and output.

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