a myriad of opportunities for artists!

Just writing the title for this post warms my cockles! It’s been a while since I have been able to share opportunities – two very different ones – both a pleasure to be involved with. And what makes them special is they are both in the Forest of Dean!

  1. Destination Lydney Harbour – a public artwork contract – £70k budget – open to all

I am pleased to say I have been working as a consultant on this project. This is a substantial contract and requires experience of delivering permanent art in the public realm. You need to register with the procurement portal to get the brief and tender documents.

Publica – In-Tend Portal

The document downloadable below may be helpful in navigating the portal:

Publica Group partners_Supplier e-tendering guide

Artwork Commission_Flyer


2. canopy network micro-commissions and bursaries and gatherings too! – open to Forest of Dean Creatives from all sectors.

I’m the Project Manager for canopy in the Forest of Dean, (very part-time).

Thanks to an Arts Council England Emergency Grant, we recently contracted Rod Maclachlan as an Engagement Manager, to deliver engagement activities during lockdown

Visit website to see full details of the opportunities and subscribe to canopy mailing list.

Web

 

 

 

chasing rainbows – found in my files, a year later and little change!

This was written just over a year ago on 24th January 2014…..just found it….it’s rather sweet – and still rings true!

chasing rainbows…

I am chasing rainbows every day, negotiating  the rough terrain of resilience, trying not to trip over my own criteria, catch my toe in the terminologies, tumble down a hill helplessly.  I am so busy keeping my eye on where I am going sometimes I don’t always notice the slippery slope.

When I do roll to the bottom and lie there, looking up, I wonder what it is like to hang out on a rainbow, stretch my body along its length, let the sun that created it warm my skin and the fine rain leave silky traces on my face.

Instead I shiver, alternately absorbing or deflecting the endless rain. I carry on pursuing the golden calf of funding, though all I seem to encounter are colleagues on the same journey, heads down in determination, sympathetic nods and smiles. We will get there.

Despite the puddles and potholes forming from neglected public services. The lack of silver lining.

Oscar Wilde, gutter and stars come to mind.

The Story of Objects – new research, partners needed, contact me to discuss

For the last year or so I have been developing a framework for a very special project, The Story of Objects.

It’s about orphaned objects, curating and an online repository. It’s social and cultural geography, art and genealogy.

Do you work in any of these fields? I’m seeking partners to make this happen…….

Would you like to have a confidential conversation about joining me on this?

If so, get in touch – there is a funding deadline looming…..

carolyn@flowprojects.org.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

Canal & River Trust, waterways, people, passion and museums

I attended the Canal & River Trust AGM on Friday in Birmingham’s beautiful new library. The Trust is only two years old, so very early days for them. Whilst their key business is about public engagement they have had a huge number of maintenance works to do as well. It is remarkable what they have achieved in this short time and there was a very positive feeling in the room. I’m very pleased I went because being surrounded by people with a passion for something makes life worthwhile.

Laurence Newman, Chair of the Museums & Attractions Partnership said: “Think about the outside of the museums, not just the inside”.

This was the first sentence that really took my attention – probably because whilst I work with Museums, I am very drawn by working beyond them too. That social history and landscape use is not only archive material but continues to be out there, in the streets, the architecture, in the fields and waterways.

Museums are not only about conservation, preservation and collection, but also about the future. Professor John Hume, giving his retiring address, commented that “we need to find a better term than heritage, it’s awful”. He also voiced disdain for the term ‘attractions’, declaring them to be rubbish. I couldn’t agree more, I thought John Hume was an inspiration. He was vociferous about the need to generate history, not just look back at the heritage.  “We’ve been living in the past…too romantic”. Everyone spoke passionately about his or her roles within in the Trust. John more than anyone was keen to keep the focus on the social history. The image below is of one of John’s slides, showing the protests about the possible closure of sections of the Grand Union Canal in 1960’s. I think this image is very reflective of the tensions in the room about how to move forward:

 canal protest

The image of the 1960’s protesters floats above the orderly speakers table. Earlier this year there was another protest about the Grand Union Canal in Milton Keynes – which just shows how much people care about access these waterways. The view out to the city of Birmingham beyond is framed by the distinctive circular motifs of the New Library.

In the room we discussed the function of the canal and waterway network – past, present and future. Indeed Birmingham is built around the canal system – yet there is no Waterway Museum there. The Gloucester Waterways Museum is much loved, but is being crowded out by the Peel Development at Gloucester Quays. Someone mentioned it should relocate – but without the canal network it would be dislocated and stripped of meaning.

Time does not – cannot – stand still. The whole canal system is a museum – but it must also record and document current things, or it will have a huge legacy gap and be frozen in time. I love the way that the waterways are like arteries in the landscape – they carry things and people, connecting places together across time. Art projects could be used to join places up, by commissioning artists to explore each place and share their findings in other places.

Occasionally there were terms used that I questioned. There was talk about the Trust being ‘the experts’ and that visitors and the public are ‘customers’. So archiving knowledge is about sharing ‘their’ knowledge. But surely we should be thinking about collaborating with our membership, learning from them just as much as they learn from us? Living the Wikipedia principle both online and off. We are all the public. Defining people as experts and membership as ‘the public’ or ‘customers’ it sets up a mindset of there being a trading transaction, rather than sharing a genuine passion for the rivers and waterways.

Whilst the concept of the expert is, of course important, I’m not sure whether it is a useful way to bring people on board to support the Trust. Knowledge exchange, sharing learning and engendering generosity will help to feed the economic machine. I suspect that we are becoming immune to the hard-sell approach. Better to engage with enthusiasts and feed their passion as collaborators, rather than take a service provider role.

And that applies to the digitisation of the archives. The archives conserve everyday things that were made by, and belonged to, ordinary people. And living ordinary people can add to the knowledge about those things through storytelling. There was talk about educating and informing people – knowledge belongs to everyone, because everyone has a story to tell.

Artists can help in that process. And I hope that I can too. I thrive on these discussions and spend hours of my life considering new ways of thinking about them. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the flush of delight when someone I mentor is awarded a grant warms the cockles!

I have to share this news, but confidentiality won’t allow me to say who it is – but well done you!

It’s an absolute privilege to mentor the people I do – they are committed and serious about their practice and work really hard to survive, despite all odds these days…..

I know how it feels to be an artist and face endless applications, constant rejections and still try to keep positive, keep going, believe in what you do. Anyone who thinks artists have it easy has evidently not tried it.

I often wonder why I do what I do, but the truth is, it’s because I care. Simple.

WHAT’S THE FUTURE OF ARTS AND CULTURE IN THE UK?

Now the local elections are over, we have to plan for the general next year.

Flow Contemporary Arts, together with many arts and cultural organisations across the UK, are seeking to champion the role of culture in our society. We need your support to make sure our future government understands why the arts are important for everyone.

We are keen to engage the public in an informed and open discussion about the place of arts and culture in all our lives, all the more as we move from local onwards and upwards to a general election.

We believe the arts and culture enhance every aspect of our lives in ways that are often unexpected and unacknowledged; the vibrancy of our cities, the identity of our rural communities, the future prospects of our children, the quality of our democracy, the sustainability of our environment, the employability of our workforce, the ability to make sense of our experiences and place in the world, and to empathise with others. 

Ask your local councilor/MP what they are doing for arts and culture in your local area and make it clear to them that you care about the arts. We want reassurance that it will be on their agenda when they deliver their campaign for general election.

Follow Flow Contemporary Arts on Twitter, on Facebook and other platforms on advocacy for the arts. Please re-Tweet messages by those who are working hard to support the arts, because we truly believe that art matters to everyone.

at risk of being a groupie for Thinking Practice, great paper on ‘being plural’

There is little I can say about Mark Robinson’s latest blog, “We have come here today to be plural” other than you must read it if you wish to read a balanced and considered reflection upon the impact austerity is having on the arts. He uses some wonderful images as illustrations of how people can work together, let’s call them benchmarks, to whet your appetite.

I hold another image in my mind after reading it – A Sudden Gust of Wind by Jeff Wall.

jeff wall a sudden gust of wind