This blog is to record the progress of setting up our first Art Trail in the lovely town of Belper, Derbyshire. For our first year, we aim to put 10 artists into 10 venues.
The trail will take place in July, from the 11th to the 24th. This runs either side of Belper Food & Ale Festival on the 17th. The trail is being run with support ofthe Food Festival committee.
Well, we achieved what we set out to do… put Art by local professional artists into shop windows and extend the food festival.
With 3 days to go, we have been reflecting on what we could do better next year and gathering information from the artists about what they would like for next year (and if they want to take part next year!)
I had a serendipitous moment yesterday, while browsing in Oxfam, someone came in and asked if the artwork was for sale. So I gatecrashed the conversation and took their number, passing it onto the artist. The Art Trails first sale.
So we are now busily collating our evidence, evaluating our performance, and excitedly looking forward to Mondays meeting of the Festival Committee.
Tired, but happy.
Andrew has been working incredibly hard organising trail guides, supporting artists with installation, making posters, and then just as we thought it was all done… Ta Dah! We secured The Belper River Gardens as a venue to do Andrews interactive performance of The Snee Snaw (his ACE funded project) It feels like the icing on the cake as far as bringing contemporary art to Belper.
So heres a link to the page with the guides on it, a guide to all the artists, a guide for your smart phone and a map (by me) of all the venues.
And on Sunday (the 17th) we get to relax and take part in the Food and Ale Festival, knwoing that our hard work has been worth it.
Only a couple of weeks to go, and everything is running smoothly.. except I haven’t acually made any work to show! I’ve been busy helping another artist out on their project, starting a couple of commissions and build my new studio… So I may not have anything to show.
But everything else is going steadily, I called round at one of the artists house last week and her kitchen has been overtaken by fabric and plastic bags, and we all kept talking to her piece of work, it was as if the memory was in the room with us.
We’re looking forward to actually getting the work in the windows, and seeing everthing in place after months of just talking. And being able to put actual real pictures on here of everyones work will also be good.
We went along to the University of Derby’s degree show last night, which was a good chance to network and catch up with lecturers and tell people what we are up to. It all sounds good when you tell people that you are organising an arts trail (not the first one in Belper, there have been a couple of others but we want this one to be an annual event).
Interestingly, when you tell people what you are doing, they are keen to tell you how to make it better… And I have to get my filing cabinet out of my mary poppins bag, and file it under ‘possibly a good idea for the future’ or ‘no, no, never!’
It would be easy to be drawn into other peoples agendas and forget our own. So is a good lesson in sticking to your own integrity, and to constantly keep questioning your own motives. While we are autonomous, we have the freedom to say yes or no, (or ‘thats a great idea for development’) and that feels like a good starting point.
I also went along to the Re:place symposium last week, entitled Curating the Rural. Which was an inspiring day, it challenged my safe ideas, for my own practice and for the arts trail, I learnt a lot from the day. And lunch was good too.
Oh the irony of organising your own art trail when in my own practice I didn’t get a place on the really big arts trail that happens in a town up the road!
So on a personal level, a rejection from Wirksworth Arts Festival when on another level, I’ve been talking to the organisers and getting very valuable advice from them. We’re working on the possibility of having access to at least one empty shop on the A6, the borough council are making that connection for us, there is always the chance that the shop will be let before the festival though.
The trails has given me a chance to realise my own strengths and weaknesses, technology not being my strong point, while talking shop owners and artists is. I have also discovered that I can speak eloquently in meetings even though I may be feeling slightly nervous.
It feels good to ignore the political climate at the moment and just get on and do something.