Artist duo LOW PROFILE discuss the impetus for and ideas behind Jamboree
As artists with quite a few years of experience behind us, who have chosen to base our lives and arts practice outside of an established visual art “hub”, we sometimes feel quite out on a limb… Lots more things have started to happen over the last five years or so in Plymouth (where we live and work), but due to a range of social and practical factors (including the cost of travel, distances involved and balancing the the time taken to regularly go and meet peers outside of our region with other commitments – like other jobs, families and relationships) we sometimes struggle to meet other artists and curators and our network has felt very localised at times.
Although online platforms and communication make it easier in many ways to find out about other artists’ work and see documentation of exhibitions and events, our desire to bring people together in one place – to meet face-to-face in an intensive environment to get to know each other and each other’s practice – reflects positive experiences we had in earlier parts of our career as part of the UK’s live art scene. Showing work at live art festivals meant traveling to events that brought practitioners together on an equal footing, to hang out, form friendships and share experiences, alongside the activity of showing your own, and seeing each other’s, work.
Jamboree is partly a response to those experiences – wanting to find new ways for visual artists and curators to meet new people and to share practice, in a supportive and critically engaged environment. Staying in one place together (with 150 other people who work in the arts) for a few days means that there will be plenty of time to relax and meet each other in an informal way which will hopefully (alongside the Jamboree programme itself) help people build new relationships.
Tell us about Jamboree 2015. How did it inform Jamboree 2018?
The first iteration of Jamboree took the form of a residential workshop hosted at Plymouth Arts Centre (Nov 2015) over 3 days, with 16 artist participants (selected from 6 artist run associate schemes from across the UK) and guest curator Martin Clark (who was then the director at Bergen Kunsthall & Artistic Director of Art Sheffield).
We set this up as a very DIY, low-budget way to bring artists from around the UK to where we lived, so we could meet new people, and so that they could meet each other. We wanted to test ways that we could proactively change something about the issues we were facing (feeling cut off/localised from a national network) and to see what benefit this would have for others too.
After the workshop, the Jamboree participants went on to build on their new connections, insights and understanding in a range of different ways, including initiating field-trips, studio visits, meet-ups, exhibitions, new opportunities & residencies. Based on our experiences of being part of workshops/events where this type of generative artist-led activity had formed out of being part of something together, we had a hunch that Jamboree might become a platform for these types of outcomes, but it was great to see that it really worked in this way.
For us as artists, however, we ended up in more of a ‘facilitator’ role, rather than being able to slot into the programme as participants. This was probably due to us wanting to shape / guide the experience quite heavily and trying to work out what would/wouldn’t work in terms of a structure for the workshop.
To keep costs as low as possible artists had to camp in the art centre studio space, which wasn’t very glamorous/comfortable and we were really aware of this. When a-n offered us support to develop the Jamboree project further, we decided that we’d like to design the event so that we could take part more fully as participants and practitioners (rather than facilitators). We also wanted to work out a situation that would be more attractive to artists and curators at a range of career stages, from early career through to more established practitioners. This has all really informed our decision-making process around the shape for Jamboree 2018 – a long-weekend away, camping with other artists & curators, introducing their work to each other in a range of relaxed ways, getting to know each other and potentially forming new professional relationships.
For more information about Jamboree 2015, take a look at some of the reports from participants in a-n blogposts: https://www.a-n.co.uk/blogs/jamboree
To find out more about Jamboree see: