Travelling through Germany….
During the middle leg of our journey back we had a group session, mind-mapping the trip. Here is a beefed up digital version – https://coggle.it/diagram/WrDEHsGZi52Uk9kt/t/budapest – this hopefully gives you an idea of the spaces we saw, people we met and research yet to do!
Alighting at Manchester….
It was great to have a group of people to talk critically with during and after the the trip, particularly for me, as I still feel new to Manchester. I feel like the group came up with a few seeds of ideas for potential projects along the trip. One of these being Lonely Artists, styled on a lonely hearts column but for artists to meet up to have 121 time about their practice or projects. After such a great train journey, I’m keen to do an artist train project. I think having focused time to talk, without a set outcome, is highly beneficial for artists. Perhaps this could be combined with the Lonely Artists idea, with artists applying for an Artists Railcard to go on a journey. Perhaps they could be paired with other artists to share the journey and ideas.. Anyway, watch this space – an Artists Railcard project may be in the making!
Boarding at Budapest….
Coming home on the train meant we had lots of time for reflection on the trip. Using our time on the cosy sleeper carriage effectively, we thought of one word to describe each place we visited. This kickstarted a discussion on our thoughts and feelings of this visit.
A lot of peoples’ highlight was having lunch with Hajnalka Somogyi from the Off Biennale. She had such an inspiring way of speaking, and spoke of the civic courage it takes to make local meaningful art in a city, when the government is working against you. This visit also highlighted the importance of art and its role in offering alternatives, its power to show new ways of being in society, rather than simply opposing what is happening. It felt very proactive, rather than responsive to the system that they were working in. This felt very relevant to our group, many of whom had been part of starting studio and project spaces for other groups and artists to be part of.
Change at Brussels…
Another one crossed off on train bingo – ‘find yourself on the wrong platform’ – a quick run down the platform for our next stop Frankfurt
On the way to Munich…
Laura ran a session on networks which I think kick started the supportive nature of the trip. Here we shared ideas for her Crit Club back in Cumbria and how our networks supported us back home. This sharing and support happened throughout the trip and is now continuing back home with visits to exhibitions planned, and a film screening happening soon.
A recurring theme of the trip was thinking about how arts are funded in different contexts. Munich is a wealthy city with large-scale ambitious galleries and institutions. Even the local smaller galleries had larger grants from the city than I expected. Despite this, the curators we spoke to felt like they were working on a shoestring for their context.
The Budapest art ecology felt very different, as many artists refused or couldn’t take money from the state due to their political beliefs or art they wanted to produce. Instead they made a living from selling their work at art fairs and internationally. It was interesting thinking about how our own context compares to the compromises and challenges artists in Budapest and Munich make to survive as an artist.
Boarding Manchester Piccadilly
Travelling such a long time by train was going to be new experience for me and before going on the trip I felt daunted by the long hours we had ahead of travelling.
Travelling past Birmingham…
The hours spent on the train became an important part of the trip. The slowed down pace and confined space of the train meant it was the perfect way to get to know each other before arriving in Budapest. Sitting in pairs, with the common ground being that we all were artists or writers meant we got to know peoples’ practices and ideas well. We also shared some texts we were interested in before travelling, which became a reading list for the trip and also came into conversations a lot.
Going through the tunnel….
For the train journey I made a card game. In my practice I’m interested in using games and play as a tool to connect people. This game was a collaborative game where players had to work together to win. Players had to fill their hand with passengers cards while never seeing their own hand. The game was rough and ready and the rules hadn’t all been decided. This collaborative process of creating the rules together on the train was great. We played different variations, including playing silently which meant we had to think of different ways to communicate. I will put a video of playing the game online next time we meet.