Once again I haven't posted in a while, on a positive note it means that I'm spending more time 'doing' art than I am just waffling on about it.
So my last post left off just before the hang of the War Music exhibition and I was expecting all sorts of unforeseen issues...and while all my planning went completely out of the window almost immediately and trying to keep track of all the different items, their context to others and the information about each was mind boggling (huge respect to museum curators!) it went relatively smoothly. That is all expect for arriving to find the boards we were using as the 'walls' for the exhibition were covered in a grey/green fabric that clashed horribly with the information boards, and took weather-worn to a whole new level. Cue mild panic, lots of google searches for 'bulk hemp-quick' and 'batch fabric-midlands', neither of which were feasible or affordable and so I had a crazy idea and we just took all of the material off. Thankfully all of the glue underneath had perished, so with my Rolson blade and a lot of brute strength we ended up with walls that matched the aged aesthetic of the music sheets, and complimented the stone greys of the cathedral...not too bad for a happy little accident.
Now on to new and bright and shiny things...during the week I was down in the midlands I also had a meeting with the Festival director of Longbridge Light Festival, an arts festival that takes place in the newly developed area of Birmingham (if you've read previous posts this is the one where I got the interview day wrong...idiot). So to cut a long story short, Claire Farrell (Director of LLF) has comissioned me to create a big interactive work as part of the festival. (!!!!!! I'm still so excited it's very difficult to form sentences!) During the meeting we discussed my work and she showed me 2 potential spaces that my work could be housed, the first of which was a communal student area of Bournvlle College (which has now moved to Longbridge into a purpose-built structure) and the second (immediately the one I wanted to use) the Art Foundation/degree students studio spaces, picture white wall gallery spaces with a series of little rooms built to look like a row of houses (instantly : A UTOPIAN COMMUNITY OF ACTIVITY AND PLAY) but there was one stipulation attached to the second option; I would have to work with students as part of a residency over Sept/Oct to create the piece (!!!!! seriously, somebody slap me - where do I sign?!) We briefly met with Amanda, one of the course directors at Bournville who was very open and enthusiastic to the idea of a resident artist working with students to produce something for the festival. And the wheels were set in motion for this wonderful, amazing opportunity - I am so, so excited!
So I had to submit an initial proposal to outline the intended outcome, timeline, how it could be interpreted as part of the Foundation students first few projects, materials, budget etc. The project needs to loosely fit the theme of the festival, which is 'Shadow Factory' - this refers to the history of Longbridge and how a local automotive factory became part of the 'Shadow Scheme' during WW2. It is also a playful double entendre that ascribes to the nature of the 'light' festival. Initially I came up with a loose concept called 'The Play Factory', which the project will now be named. Over the last few weeks I've met with some of the staff from Bournville to discuss the scope and realities of the project, and have spent some time defining the context:
The Play Factory: Work with students of Bournville College to create a series of interactive
games/activities that relate loosely to the history of Longbridge and Shadow factories in a wider
context. During the war effort toy factories were given over to shadow factory scheme, rendering
toys expensive. Many families could no longer afford to buy toys and so children would create
street games from what they could find, or would make games with adult family members from
cheap materials. My intention is use to board games/street games/toys from the period during
WW2 as inspiration for the activities contained within TPF.
The Play Factory seeks to subvert the idea of ‘war effort’ by creating a space that aims to be a
place of play and pure pleasure. Rather than producing ammunition and aeroplanes, our factory
will produce joy, interaction and participant relationships - a utopian ‘wacky warehouse’ for adults
and children alike.
So far it's just a loose narrative, which will be shaped and developed through the input of the students and myself over the course of the residency. It's going to be both exciting and difficult to collaborate with such a large group...I can't wait!
In other news, I've finalised a date for the launch of the BSA booklet, this is going to take place on the 18th of August and will be part of a regular social event so hopefully there will be lots of the studio holders/members there to get involved. I've also been asked to step in and run 2 events whilst the regular staff are away, which will be fun to shake up my usual casual bar-working weekend.
So, it's all systems go! As well as managing these various projects, we're also due to move back to the midlands within the next 6 weeks, ideally before I start at Bournville on the 5th of Sept, so we have the lovely added stress of trying to find a house and then doing the cross-country move! YAY! (not so yay, there is nothing yay about moving house). Also, the timescale and budget for TPF means that I need to find myself some part-time work which is flexible enough to fit around the residency...some not-so-easy times ahead! Fingers crossed something arts related comes up!
I keep saying that I'm going to start posting these regularly, and then doing the complete opposite so for the time being I'll just post up when big new things happen and then once I've started at Bournville I'll try and do something weekly to track the project's development.
Fun times ahead!!