The following text attempts to articulate how I developed my practice and thinking. For more succinct information about me please go to Curriculum Vitae and Experience and Skills.
I have worked in the visual and live arts sectors for 20 years. Bristol has been my permanent base whilst I have worked throughout the UK.
My career began when my BA Fine Art finished in 1995 as a part time Gallery Information Assistant and Freelance Artist Educator at Arnolfini, Bristol. During this time I met Lindsey Fryer (then Education Officer). Through her guidance I developed the practical methodologies and philosophical approach that forms the foundation of my practice today. This includes challenging the institution by consistently asking ‘Who are we here for? I also learnt how to encourage others to question the art work they experienced and how to permeate the institution with a myriad of voices and perspectives alongside maintaining a rigorous and critical artist led approach.
After Lindsey Fryer left to go to Tate Liverpool in 1999 my relationship with Arnolfini has morphed and manifested in
many different ways, even punctuating my freelance practice with two spells working full time in the Education Department and more recently in the Interaction Department (now Learning). I’ve worked with audiences and participants across Arnolfini’s programmes under three directors, with international artists, curators, producers, theatre companies and performers. This education over two decades has enabled me experience an extensive range of contemporary arts practice alongside being part of an institution undergoing extensive architectural and organisational reconfiguration. I have been able to get to grips with how the different components of an institution can work together, agitate each other and become more porous. I was like a car mechanic, using a dolly to wheel themselves underneath a car, so they could see the engine working. I should add I never set out to embed myself at Arnolfini. It happened by stealth.
Artists & Ecologies
Living in Bristol for 20 years has meant I have been able to deeply engage with the artistic communities here from artist led initiatives to the large scale institutions as they have changed and evolved over time. Alongside working with Arnolfini I have collaborated with a range of artists, designers, architects, performers, musicians and filmmakers, held studios in Cornershop Studios (Jamaica Street) and Spike Island’s Sculpture Shed, contributed to Spike’s Associates, received a bursary from Situations and developed projects with cultural institutions in Bath, Birmingham, Sheffield, Liverpool and London. During this time I have also worked on a participatory project in a hospital and delivered arts based consultation in rural community centres.
In 2001 I initiated articulate, an artist led research project with Lucy Pedlar. Our intention was to question how art is mediated and interpreted. To aid us in our research we created a mobile resource space or cabinet of wonders and invited artists we knew or had connections with to make an art work for it. Artists including Phyllida Barlow, Daphne Wright, Andrew Mania, Josephine Flynn, Kieran Brown and Louise Short generously donated original work that have unwrapped by others in many different locations. When Lucy Byatt was Director at Spike Island (2002 – 8) I felt she was turning the institution inside out – from that of a studio for a few to a dynamic platform for exchange and opportunities for creatives working across the city and beyond. This was a process of considerable change which was both architectural and organisational - that at times was tricky and impossible. However observing and being part of that reimagining of an organisation was inspirational.
Seismic Shifts and Freedom
Over the last two decades there have been seismic shifts in curating, producing, public engagement, collaborative practice, socially engaged and participatory practices that have been interrogated by writers, critics and curators including Nicholas Bourriaud, Claire Doherty, Maria Lind and Claire Bishop. I am inspired by the grit and tangled residue generated by troubled situations, failures and misconceptions. I am motivated by the agility and freedom of a new generation of artists, educators and producers for whom definitions and boundaries are meaningless.
Just to clarify my roles as an artist, facilitator, educator, consultant and producer have always developed in tandem, intertwined and fed each other. Making, collaborating and research pollinate and bubble up across the different areas of my practice. I don’t always want to be an artist but rather revisit a studio practice from time to time in or order to think through making and also view facilitation, learning, consultation and production as creative processes in their own right. Neither am a frustrated artist. I have and always will choose to position myself inbetween, at the point where art, artist, people, place, process and institution collide and a kaleidoscope of unresolved meanings, interpretations, relationships, and visions are generated. Sometimes this work embraced and other times it is invisible and marginal.
Picking Up The Threads
I am now at a point where I am reviewing my practice with fresh eyes since taking a five year break to start a family. It is a process of picking up threads of my experience, setting aside what doesn’t feel right for now and weaving new connections - in order to make and remake myself again and again.
For further information or to begin a discussion about how we could work together please go to CONTACT ME .
Go to artist, facilitator, educator, consultant or producer.
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