The theoretical underpinning of our work, and its location within contemporary visual art has been a constantly evolving and dynamic aspect of our artistic vision. The reality of securing that place, however is more problematic. Visual art made by, with and about people who have complex needs is most often confined to outreach and education programmes. It is rarely given exposure to wider, mainstream art audiences. Over the next three years, our ambition is to move toward a sustained ‘placing’ of our work within mainstream contemporary art programming in the South East region.
Collaboration with MK Gallery
Project Art Works and MK Gallery have collaborated on a project developing practice-led investigations of built space and perceptual impairment. Through a series of events and inclusive workshops that promote self-advocacy we are building lasting partnerships between the gallery and social care providers in Milton Keynes.
The central theme of the project referenced the urban grid of Milton Keynes, built space, perception and visibility in the city. Events 1 through 4 were as follows:
Event 1: 7 February 2011
MK Gallery staff visited Project Art Works in Hastings and took part in a workshop day with some of our participants.
Event 2: 5-8 April 2011
The Project Art Works artist team transformed the MK long gallery space to collaborate with 36 local people with complex and/or high support needs, making art in the space. The workshops were dynamic and multi-sensory and employed light, sound, construction and physical media to collaboratively engage people and those that support them. A camera was flown from a blimp anchored to the roof of the gallery and its view beamed into the workshop.
Event 3: June 2011
A series of pedestrian journeys with selected participants from event 2 investigated certain areas of the city, recorded by the artist team.
Exhibition: States & Spaces
The collaboration culminated in our first major survey exhibition in a mainstream gallery. It offered insights into the worlds of people who have neurological impairment and their very particular ways of experiencing different spaces. Video, painting, drawing, etching, sound and immersive installations were selected from a huge body of work produced by Project Art Works over the past decade.
|The Jerwood Survey
The Jerwood Foundation have built a major new cultural venue with regional and national importance on the Stade in Hastings - creating a permanent home for the Jerwood Collection of 20th and 21st Century works of art, with a contemporary created programme, including the Jerwood Visual Arts drawing prize.
Invited to work in partnership with the Gallery, Project Art Works conducted a Jerwood Survey - a raw, experiential investigation of the new, as yet 'uninhabited' building by people who have perceptual and/or cognitive impairment but who are highly sensitive to the sounds, surfaces, light and qualities of built space.
Investigations took place in February 2012, and were recorded through sound and video. This data is being edited and produced as a surround sound installation to be exhibited in the Jerwood Galllery during the autumn/winter of 2012/2013.
|Turning Point South East
Through dialogues with curators, visual art organisations, artists and galleries we are igniting an open and exploratory approach to the issues of diversity and excellence in the visual arts. We are working in partnership to explore how our work can be integrated into mainstream activities, events and exhibitions as opposed to education and/or access settings.
Phase 1: Research and Development
Between June and September 2009, the Director began conversations with Aspex Gallery; Turner Contemporary and Modern Art Oxford, researching whether and how inclusive curatorial initiatives can be built into mainstream programming whilst maintaining standards of excellence in exhibiting, theoretical debate and actions. Workshops involving our Studio participants supported these ‘conversations’ introducing key staff to working and engaging with people who have high support needs. These critical dialogues on excellence, inclusion and curatorial direction were recorded and evaluated and are being shared with other mainstream organizations.
Over some years we have designed and made mobile constructions that have been used as spaces in which to conduct workshops and show work; these include a Geodesic Dome that has featured in several projects and Imagebox, a four sided projection structure that shows four films simultaneously at reasonably large scale and can be placed wherever there is mobile power.
With Nutshell a new project in development, we propose to take the idea of a travelling temporary structure to another level, designing a multi-function, fold out mobile space in which we can curate installations and exhibitions as well as conduct events, film shows and hold workshops. Nutshell embraces the proposition of the ‘experiential’ as transformative through its potential to reach the wider public, as well as increasing the depth and quality of experience for participants and artists through housing sensory environments of sound, construction and moving image that hold and contain narrative and depth. Through Nutshell these other worlds will appear as ‘happenings’, contained and transient in venues from town centres, to gallery car parks or wild open spaces.