My art practice is research led and often use objects, materials and process to explore the documentation of the human condition in material culture and place. I use the language and practice of social sciences and museum studies to create sculpture, installation and public activity which explore the function of collection and heritage.
I studied Three Dimensional Design where I enjoyed a multi-disciplinary approach to materials before completing a MA in Jewellery & Related Products in Birmingham’s historic Jewellery Quarter. I’ve been interested to appropriate the language of different processes and disciplines since graduating in 2008.
I work from, and co-direct Paradise Works, Salford, and teach Critical & Contextual Studies at University of Salford School of Arts & Media. In 2016 I coordinated and curated the Place + Production programme for Rogue Artists’ Studios which marked the group’s final year at Crusader Mill.
During this time I became interested in the place for making in the city as development continues to push industry out. This blog will record my research visits and thoughts about the place for making in Manchester and my own practice.
This blog about my Professional Development Bursary is a little later than planned. When I wrote the application back in February there was quite a few unknowns that myself and the artists involved in the setting up of Paradise Works were soon to tackle. So, massive thanks to a-n for their support and for the opportunity to reflect on what we’ve done this year and figure out where we want to go, how we might get there, and what I want to do within my own practice.
The bursary will enable me to explore open access space for making/production/fabrication (delete as appropriate) and develop my own skill set. I’ve come from a making background and I’ve been challenging the scale of my work for a while now, but my skill set, and the public commissions I have received, have meant I have worked with fabricators to make the work. I absolutely love working with others to make work but I do see a gap forming between this work and my studio practice, which has stayed relatively small scale. I now want to play and respond intuitively to materiality, and explore problem solving and playful authorship in larger scale making.
The other key motivation behind this is my role with Paradise Works which has been borne out of a crisis in studio provision in Manchester and a desire to create a sustainable space for artistic production in the city. Before I left Rogue Artists’ Studios last year I curated a series of exhibition which examined what was being lost as the cogs of the city’s development creaked back into motion. My last show in December 2016, Division of Labour, explored historical production and threatened contemporary, fringe industries – of which, artistic production was one.
My discussions with Hilary Jack during this programme informed our approach to Paradise Works, we feel strongly that artists need to assert their presence in the city and ensure their value and relevance is understood. Artistic production promotes diversity within the urban landscape and in turn, we are better enabled to develop sustainable careers through the audience, partners and network the city can offer. That said, the production facilities available to artists in Manchester is currently limited to our own kit or shared tools in studio spaces and small mixed-use workshops or specialist processes like woodwork and ceramics.
Access to new processes, materials and skills, enables artists to develop the scale and ambition of their work, offering both creative and professional development. In turn, this surely helps us to assert our presence in the city, and perhaps make our activities more accessible? Needless to say, this blog will only scratch the surface of this but the bursary will enable me to develop these initial thoughts and define our long-term vision for Paradise Works. To do this I’ll be visiting spaces in Manchester, Edinburgh, Birmingham and London, but I’ll talk about that some more in that in the next blog post. Thanks for reading.