Monday, March 28, 2011

Kiss Me Quick Zine Call

We now have a logo for our Kiss Me Quick show. The show will take place in Margate Harbour Arm Gallery Private View on Friday 1st July - and then we will be open on Saturday til Monday (4th).
We are organising a number of events and talks to happen over the weekend as well, all tbc.
A big reason for the show is the Turner Contemporary Gallery, which opens on 16th April. As a group of artists from Stoke-on-Trent we are interested in exploring the possible resurgence in interest in the British Seaside Holiday, and the impact of art and culture on regeneration; Turner Contemporary (along with the Dreamland Heritage Project) may be providing new reasons to visit Margate.

As a group of artists many of us make a living through our practices, and for this reason we would never usually apply for a project which required us to pay. However, with the cuts, artist led spaces are finding it harder to survive, and many are relying on revenue which can be brought in through rental costs. We have decided to hire the Margate Harbour Arm Gallery for a week - the cost is £156, plus of course we will need further funds to hire a van for a week - and petrol to transport the work to Margate, and also we need to cover the costs for the artists to stay in Margate.

As cuts to the arts mean funding is few and far between (and getting harder to secure by the day) we as a group are interested in finding alternative sources of funding.
We have decided to try out a variety of approaches to funding in order to financially float this project. One of our ideas is to create a zine which will accompany the exhibition. The call below will aim to extend the artists involved in the project - hopefully helping us to make some links with the art scene in Margate - and also providing an opportunity for the project to exist in another format.
We aim to have the zine ready one month before the show in Margate, so we can start selling it.
Other fundraising schemes which we as a group will be engaging in include: a boot fair, a silent auction, and a quiz.The exhibition will show the work of 13 artists, all based in Stoke-on-Trent. Some of us are from AirSpace gallery, and others from Rednile and others are friends of both - for this reason we have developed the idea of an amorphous group called and friends - who can change and develop depending on the project.
The zine will be made with recycled paper, and will be quite home made (in order to keep costs down) but we hope it will be a beautiful art object. Kate Lynch specialises in hand made print techniques, and will be leading on the development of the zine.

Open Call for Submissions: Kiss Me Quick (Zine)

What: 2d Work based around the theme of the British Seaside Holiday.
In the summer of 2011 AirSpace Studio artists, Rednile and friends will be descending on the Seaside Town of Margate for ‘Kiss Me Quick’ an exhibition on Margate Harbour Arm. The artists will make work in response to the town, and will be considering the possible resurgence in popularity of the British Seaside Holiday, in the wake of fuel price rises. This call is for works for a ‘Kiss Me Quick’ zine, which will be produced alongside the exhibition.

Who: Artists with connections to Margate.

To apply tell us:
1. Title of piece
2. Artist name
3. Website / email for publicity
4. Connection to Margate

File format: jpeg or tiff

Colour: black & white / greyscale only.

Size: A5 portrait at 300dpi (1754x2480 pixels / 148.5 x 210mm / 5.85 x 8.27 inches)

To apply: send us your art works in the file format stated above to by May 2nd 2011.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Dreamland, O Dreamland.

I have been selected for the A-N bursary to write about the Turner Contemporary opening, which I am really excited about. I will be going along to the opening and then reviewing my visit for artist's newsletter.

This is the short piece I wrote as a proposal (The title Dreamland, O Dreamland comes from the title of the marvellous film of the funfair at the end of this post:

I grew up with the smells of sea in my nostrils. As a teenager, like my Mother before me, I made candyfloss and endless ninety-nines for sunburnt and rain sodden holiday makers on Margate seafront. The rhythmic chanting of Bingo callers, rattle of coins being dropped into arcade machines and the thumping tunes from the Waltzer all went silent in 2005, when the amusement Park ‘Dreamland’ closed its doors to the public. Some said this was the final nail in Margate’s coffin. No longer the Costa Brava of the U.K; Margate’s glory was faded, with no hope of resurrection.

Until now.

I returned to Margate after years away in 2008. I had heard that a new art space was planned for the Town, and it was going to be big. I found a town, whose cultural landscape had changed beyond recognition. Suddenly more than 10 art spaces were operating in the town. It seemed to me that Turner Contemporary were very deliberately involved in spurring on the development of an art scene in the Town. Building an audience in readiness for the opening of ‘the largest exhibition space in the South East, outside of London.’ I felt that the grassroots investment witnessed in 2008 could only bode well for the project, and I am keen to return for the opening of Turner Contemporary, to explore the new building, and to talk to the people of Margate to see what impact Turner’s presence may already be having on the town.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Modes of Practice in an Age of Austerity

Yesterday the modes of practice event took place in the Exchange, Stoke-on-Trent. This is an event I have wanted to see happening for a while now.
The thoughts first started as a result of Rich White's 'State of Practice' essay, which Rich delivered at the Interrogation: West Bromwich. Read it here.
It explores ideas of value/money and the threat to the arts as a result of the cuts. Then a few months ago Rich sent out a call, stating that he was available for work - and this began a conversation on an earlier blog here, where I wished to explore whether Rich would come and clean my windows for payment - in order to discuss the wider issue of what we as artists should agree to do for money.Of course lots of groups are exploring these things, the group Sophie Hope is involved in 'Making a Living' have been carrying out a residency last month on the Longhouse Website exploring these themes, and the Arts Against Cuts group are very vocal on the subject, in addition I have been following Emily Speed's Getting Paid blog on a-n, and indeed Rich cited this within State of Practice.It was for this reason that I approached Emily and Rich to ask that they come to Stoke for the event 'Modes of Practice in an Age of Austerity.'The idea for the event was that Rich and Emily, who both have what could be described as non-traditional art practices like mine, which do not usually result in an output/product or object which can be sold, would give a talk about their practices, and how they envisage the cuts might impact on them, and what plans they may be implementing to survive. You can read Rich's paper here.
Watch Rich's talk above.
Then I wanted to have a discussion with all the artists and practitioners at the event about the issues facing all of us - with a view to coming up with some rules for how to be and how to support each other in the coming years.
Watch Emily's talk above.So after the talks, everyone got a cuppa and then got into smaller groups, to discuss a series of questions; I was really pleased with the turn out at the event, with people travelling from as far afield as Yorkshire, and Birmingham for the event. Also the Exchange was a great space to hold it in, Gemma and Marcus made us very welcome.the first question was:
Question: What impact have the cuts had on your practice or the practice of other artists you know?
Selected Answers:
- lack of payment
- emerging artists taking the strain/working for free
- artists are being more inventive/working in new areas to supplement practice
Next was:
Question: What are your main concerns for the coming years?
Selected Answers:
things go on hold/limbo/impact will really be felt in 2012
devaluation of the arts/arts not respected as adding to quality of society
life becoming more dull- a hole where all the art was
The Conservatives
Then there was:
Question: What are the best and worst traits in an artist (or in yourself as an artist?)
Selected Answers:
seeing sharing ideas and work
able to collaborate
resourceful/ turning negatives into positives
lack of solidarity
taking unpaid work in order to make something happen instead of saying maybe it shouldn’t happen
promoting the myth of the starving artist
acting unprofessionally when given an opportunity/not taking it seriously/not treating it as a job/puts off commissioners and propagates the myth that art is not a profession
and finally:
Question: Have you started to employ any strategies for surviving the cuts, and how could artists help and support each other during these difficult times?
sharing links/knowledge/opportunities
being more proactive to meet people
do things at cost
providing opportunities through networks
Then the groups worked on coming up with 5 rules for how artists might ensure good practice and support each other in the coming years.The conversations already generated meant that the rules came quite naturally. It was encouraging, as one of the participating artists pointed, this could have been one big moanfest - but actually there was a lot of positivity - and though problems and issues were being aired all around the room people were thinking of how to make things better and be supportive of each other. Nat Pitt who was in attendance raised the question of how positive would we be likely to be in a few years time, when the effects of the cuts will be in full swing.
Each group introduced their 5 rules to the others, and then each participant had two votes to select their favourite two rules. This showed us which were the most popular of the rules.
We then created our list of 8 rules, in order of importance.
The final part of the event was to discuss as a group how to disseminate the manifesto.
Myself, Emily Speed and Rich White will now each work up a poster design (giving us three versions) which we will be having printed and will then get it out into the world.
The group committed to publicising it to their networks, and getting as many artists as possible to sign up to it,other ideas of where to target it can be seen on the sheet above.
I am going to set up a Facebook group, in order to help to disseminate the ideas, but I will be working on my poster next weekend at Kate Lynch's Print workshop. Rich, Emily and I have decided to keep it black and white, to make it as cheap as possible.
I am looking forward to seeing all 3 designs together - watch this space!
Thanks to New Generation Space for funding and supporting the event, and to The Exchange for providing the venue and the tea, and to Glen Stoker for the photographs, and of course a massive thanks to everyone who came along and shared their thoughts and time, and helped to write the manifesto.


1. Be Active: Support each others’ endeavours
2. Be Active: Be Political
3. Be Active: Keep making art
4. Value Yourself, your time and your skills
5. Share resources and knowledge
6. Focus/Strategise/Plan
7. Be Critical: Quality Assure
8. Know your rights

Update: We have been working on a slightly easier to understand version of this in the past few days, and Rich has come up with the following:

Manifesto: Modes of Practice

1. Be Active: Support Each-other.
2. Be Active: Be an Activist.
3. Be Active: Be an Artist.
4. Value Yourself, Your Time and Your Skills.
5. Share Your Knowledge and Resources.
6. Focus, Strategise and Plan.
7. Be Critical - Be Fair.
8. Know Your Rights.

A guide for artists and creative practitioners in the age of austerity.

Rich White's Manifesto above. The next week myself and artist Kate Lynch worked on creating a potato alphabet stamp set within a print workshop Kate was running.
 We then worked on creating a version of the Manifesto using the potato print stamps and some vinyl lettering on my dining room floor.
The Manifesto is now on display in the Resource Room at AirSpace Gallery. Rich White and Emily Speed's postcard editions are available for sale from AirSpace gallery shop.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Kiss Me Quick: Margate Holiday Plans

This summer AirSpace Gallery studio artists will be hopping on a Double Decker bus and heading for Margate, not with Cliff Richard though, but with some other Stoke-on-Trent based artists.
Kiss me Quick will be an exhibition exploring the rising fuel costs and the possible resurgence in interest in Britain's Seaside Resorts.
Margate's glorious days were seemingly long since over, but the hopes of many are pinned on a revival in interest in the Town's fortunes perhaps to be brought about by the opening of Turner Contemporary (opening in April this year.)
I am keen to explore what impact Turner has already had on the cultural landscape in the town, and following up on my visit from 2008, I will aim to see how the artist lead activity has developed over the past few years. See post here.
At the moment there are about a dozen of us planning to make work for the show. Everyone is making work which is to some extent site specific, or in response to Margate.
I am planning to create a fortune teller type arcade machine (with me playing the fortune teller.)
The fortune's will all be looking at the future landscape of Margate, now that it includes Turner Contemporary.
We have already had two planning meetings, and have secured our venue: Margate Harbour Arm Gallery - and we aim to make connections in Margate (and raise some funds to help with the costs) by creating a zine which can be sold prior to and during the event, half of which will be designed by us, and the other half will be a call for artists with Margate links.
We also hope to include some activities and events within the programme, which will hopefully help us to develop networks in Margate, but also to make some work and documentation to bring back to Stoke with us to exhibit here. Some of us are interested in the idea of a group of people from Stoke all going off to the beach - just like the Potter's Holiday's of the past, when all the Pottery Firms would close, and everyone would pile onto coaches and head for the seaside.
We are all quite excited, as it will be a bit of a holiday (if a working one.)