…Continued from yesterday…
Bang in the midst of getting ready to open the Bradford Baked Zines popup shop, some exciting news. Gideon Seymour, director of Bradford arts organisation Fabric (http://www.fabricculture.co.uk/)got in touch to say that he had located a possible city centre space for the emerging darkroom co-operative.
Back in March, triggered by a Twitter conversation about the costs of developing film, six of us met up for a beer in Bradford to talk about the possibility of running a darkroom co-operative: Adam Simons, Simon Cantrill, Anne McNeil, Ivan Mack, Sam Dakin and myself. Some of us were friends (three of us as Loosely Bound zine collective members) and a couple of us hadn’t ‘met’ outside Twitter. Between us we have varying degrees of experience and knowledge of photography, from Anne who is the director of Impressions Gallery http://www.impressions-gallery.com/ and who began her career with setting up a community darkroom at Camerawork in London in the 70’s, to myself who has sketchy knowledge but desire to learn. It was an exploratory meeting in which we talked about how we might run a darkroom co-op, and various options for spaces and possible sources of equipment.
Following the meeting, the possible leads we had discussed for finding an sustainable, affordable and accessible space hadn’t been yielding too much success.
Then the email came from Gideon. Gideon, on behalf of Fabric, has been taking on leases of an increasing number of empty shop spaces in Bradford city centre for creative purposes for some time, putting them to use variously as popup shops, galleries, artists studios and rehearsal spaces. http://www.fabricculture.co.uk/blog/fabric-takes-more-empty-shops
The space he suggested for us on Rawson Place in the City Centre, is being offered to Fabric rent and rates free for a minimum of a year, with the likelihood of it being extended to three years, All we need to do is find the money to pay utility bills and public liability insurance. Fabric deal directly with the landlord which means little paperwork or bureaucracy for the us – we just need to agree terms with Gideon and put a vinyl in the window acknowledging the support of Fabric.
None of us expected to find or be offered a space like this so quickly. The space is ideal – perfectly located in the city centre, a good size, allowing for flexible use – including a generous partitioned darkroom area plus areas for workshops and even a small gallery space, and perhaps sharing the space with a print collective. The landlord is keen to move quickly so we needed to make a decision soon. Slightly deliriously, not quite believing our good fortune, we said yes.
Two weeks on, as negotiations with the landlord are underway, we as a new collective need to catch our breath and discuss how we want to use this great opportunity. Although most of us know each other, we have only met once as a group, there’s a lot to decide: What is our vision for the space? How do we organise ourselves and want to run it? How can we share our knowledge and skills with each other and provide a community resource for Bradford?
Discussing this news with artist and curator Caroline Hick, at my first a-n re:view session with her on 15th May, I was able to trace a thread back from these events through to some of the investigations into, and conversations about generosity which have been happening over the past months, including a lunch meeting with Ivan and Georgia Mack back in March about our shared desire to find a way of sharing our creative knowledge and resources: the trialling of gift circles and skills exchange twitter hashtags; a photography skills share with Adam Simons (all documented on Wur blog here http://wurblog.wordpress.com/2013/02/26/twitter-gifting/) , photography conversations on Twitter leading to our new collective, and this space. Caroline suggested that the space, and the potential and opportunities it offers us, is a gift.
The next step is to figure out how use it in the best, most reciprocal way, for ourselves as a creative collective, and for the wider community.