What kind of a year has 2014 been for you?
Very hard work yet extremely rewarding! Hospitalfield is an extraordinary ‘project’ that I am fortunate to be at the helm of. It is so rewarding to host artists, curators, writers, etc, here. I am continuously observing just what a productive working environment this is whatever the time of year. As we develop our ideas for the future I feel that there are many agencies, organisations and individuals who are with us, willing us on. There is a far greater awareness than I had anticipated of the important place that Hospitalfield holds within the arts in Scotland.
The invitation to curate Scotland + Venice in 2015 has shifted my perspective considerably – I can’t quite imagine the year without this project being embedded within our plan. With my programme manager, Laura Simpson, I have just completed the selection of 28 students and young artists to work with us as part of the Scotland + Venice team. They have been selected from seven art and design colleges from across Scotland. This has been a hugely rewarding exercise, to see how many astonishing young people there are with so much potential. We will start working with them in March over a 12-month period and I look forward to that very much.
What has changed for the better and what, if anything, has changed for the worse?
The news that Creative Scotland, for the first time, will support Hospitalfield’s contemporary art programme on a regular funding basis over three years from April 2015 will create essential stability. Overall, the very good team that I have here are working with me very hard, every day to change almost everything; from the way in which visitors are greeted to the plans that we have to improve the conditions for the collections and archival material, to plans to open the gardens to the public. We know so much more about what we have and who is interested in our past, present and future.
What do you wish hadn’t happened this year?
Beyond the bubble of this place this has been a particularly difficult year in the world and I am sure that we will all be reflecting on this in our various ways as we reach the end of 2014. It is hard to isolate one single happening.
What do you wish had happened this year, but didn’t?
I’m still looking for a new bookkeeper!
What would you characterise as your major achievement this year and why?
As we develop the programme, our emphasis both on residency and production is increasingly important. The commissions that we worked on with Claire Barclay, who collaborated for the first time with choreographer Janice Parker, and a new work with Fiona Jardine – both commissioned within the framework of GENERATION 25 years of art in Scotland – made me realise the potential of Hospitalfield as a platform and location for the development of new work. A bit further away geographically yet with the train station just at the end of the road, slightly at the margin but not so much; this is a place where artists are able to test new ideas and collaborations.
The invitation to commission Graham Fagen to make new work for Scotland + Venice in 2015 offers further possibilities of working away from the site and realising Hospitalfield as a vital place from which new work can be made and then presented anywhere in the world. We started some great partnerships, not least with the very wonderful Isla Leaver Yap who programmed our first Fieldworks summer school – the next one will struggle to be better but we are optimistic.
Is there anything you’d like to have done this year but haven’t?
I would love to have had the time to go to my friend Professor Sanchayan Ghosh’s wedding, held at the end of this year in Santiniketan in West Bengal. When we first met he was doing a residency at Spike Island with the Charles Wallace Trust; he had just got his job teaching at the art school in Santiniketan and now he has such an important role within that wonderful place. Time to travel is increasingly hard to find.
What would make 2015 a better year than 2014?
We have a lot to do this year and really we are already looking towards 2016; 2015 is already planned and we have to be sure that we emerge from this vitally important year as a far more familiar place in the minds of those who visit us and those who just know about our work. I am particularly eager to ensure that, as a partnership, this is a good year for Graham Fagen and that the new work shown in Venice is then shown successfully back in Scotland. I would like to be confident that we can start the first phase of our capital development in mid-to-late 2016 and this of course requires some hard work on raising the additional funds that we require. It’s hard to compare the last year to the next as it is all a progression rather than one year being better than another.
Follow the hwify2014 tag for more in the series
More on a-n.co.uk:
Major capital funding announced for arts in Scotland – Creative Scotland announces funding including £1m for Hospitalfield Arts
Creative Scotland announces new Regular Funding portfolio – Hospitalfield Arts becomes regularly funded for the first time