Delegates were once again invited to participate in the popular ‘Soapbox’ event at this year’s Conference, a great opportunity to spend 8-10 minutes presenting to colleagues about a particular project, area of work or piece of research. It’s a practical way to receive feedback and ideas from fellow delegates, promote your initiatives, and may lead to new partnerships in the future.
Lawrence Bradby spoke about about turf twinning - a project he has been involved with at firstsite, Colchester.
'It illustrates the benefits and problems of artists, non-artists and galleries working together in what grant kester calls 'collective modes of production' (I find this term more accurate than the term 'socially engaged'). Turf twinning began with a question: can I dig up this piece of turf and swap it with another? to ask this question we would assemble a group of people who used and cared for a piece of open public space. together, the group would think about twinning their space with another open space in colchester. Posing the question of digging up a turf brought up some fundamental differences of opinion about why a project should take place and what direction it should go in. The people we were working with were not always the legal owners of the land. often the users of open public space had different view of it to the legal owners. this was the case in both privately-owned farmland (crossed by public footpaths) and publicly owned council recreation grounds and parks. How does a museum, gallery or visual arts organisation handle divergent opinions raised by art projects? The writer Chantal Mouffe, who coined the term 'angonism', would argue for the democratic necessity of maintaining divergent opinions in the public sphere. My experience of turf twinning was that the gallery was not comfortable with this approach. The gallery wanted the community of users of a particular public open space to avoid asking awkward questions. This raises the concluding question of whether the arts functions as part of 'the public sphere' where difficult questions can be asked and looked at in a number of ways.'
Effy Hong described a project that she is working on for the past two years.
'Since 2011, we have been researching and documenting the careers of these two important contemporary Chinese artists, who participated in the phenomenal “gunshot incident” at the China/Avant-Garde Exhibition in Beijing in February 1989. This project will result in a 90-minute feature length documentary film. We also plan to publish a book composed of original primary research materials including exclusive interviews with the two artists, as well as interviews with other leading artists, curators, critics, and others associated with the emergence of contemporary art in China since the 1970s. Thus far we have gathered over 100 hours of footage and dozens of original documents, photographs, etc. of the artists and their works. '
Marina Castledine spoke about Circuit, a new national programme led by Tate and funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation.
'Circuit is a four year national programme connecting 15–25 year olds to the arts in galleries and museums working in partnership with the youth and cultural sector. Led by Tate and funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, it provides opportunities for young people to steer their own learning and create cultural activity across art disciplines. Circuit involves Tate Modern and Tate Britain; Tate Liverpool; Tate St Ives and partners from the Plus Tate network: firstsite, Colchester; MOSTYN, Llandudno; Nottingham Contemporary; Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester; and Wysing Arts Centre and Kettle’s Yard, Cambridgeshire.'
Amy Lloyd and Oliver Sumner presented PLAYAWAY, Delta Arts' recent project with two adventure playgrounds in Portsmouth and South London.
'For PLAYAWAY we invited Hannah Blackmore and Abigail Gilchrist to work at Somerstown Adventure Playground on Portsmouth’s Somerstown estate and Somerville Adventure Playground in New Cross. They used a range of cameras, including miniature head-cams, to explore play with the children, and to find out how the two communities value their adventure playgrounds. We learnt about the issues they share and those specific to each context. We were particularly interested in the specific point of view of the children and using play and video to communicate.'
Helen Ackroyd discussed Drawing Capacity Circles:
'Using a training and enabling model Nottinghamshire has used the power of the pencil and drawing for engagement through Big Draw to capacity build with leaders in both arts and non arts settings to vastly increase the number of arts activities accross the county and our training programme went on to win the drawing inspiration award 2012. This year we are extending this work into knew areas including; parents and volunteers as leaders within venues and centres, special schools and mencap leaders, delivering arts award through development of Big Draw in a secure children's unit and whole town involvement using Big Draw as the glue for participation. My presentation will highlight the process we have been through, the power of the pencil and plans for the future.'