a-n Assembly is heading to Thamesmead and Stoke-on-Trent this autumn, with day-long events that will explore how artists can respond to issues such as cultural inequality, housing, community production and activism.

Places at both events are free to a-n Members, although booking is required. The cost for non-members is £10. Lunch and refreshments are provided as part of the day.

Mapping ‘London’s edge’

Curated by artist-led space TACO!, Assembly Thamesmead takes place on Saturday 26 October 2019 and will focus on the concept of ‘London’s edge’ and how, drawn by opportunity and affordability, artists are living and working in new parts of the city.

London’s position as a global centre for contemporary art is underpinned by its many art schools and vibrant artist-led scenes that feed a wider ecology of commercial galleries, collectors, institutions and international audiences.

However, sustaining an arts practice in the capital in the face of high costs of studio and living space is now challenging for the majority of artists.

Through panel discussions, screenings, artists’ talks and workshops, and with contributions from artists, curators, producers and organisations working in London, Assembly Thamesmead is a chance for artists to share ideas and take action.

Programme highlights include:

Space is the Place, a panel discussion focused around the ‘project space’. The discussion will explore how these vital nexuses of activity are developing new methods of presentation and exchange as artist-led spaces move to new locations within the city. Chaired by Art Licks director Holly Willats, contributors include Philip Serfaty of Black Tower Projects, Phil Wilson Perkin from Five Years, and Sophie Blagden and Jhinuk Sarkar of Turf Projects.

Artist’s Talk: Laura Yuile, Asset Arrest. For her ongoing project Asset Arrest, which is currently realised as a podcast series, artist Laura Yuile poses as a potential buyer of a different luxury property each week to map how these developments are marketed to a global elite. Invited guests discuss a range of topics including urban regeneration, the neoliberal city, housing crises, globalisation, authenticity, exclusion, and community. Yuile’s exhibition, ‘Heavy View’, is currently showing at TACO! until 24 November 2019.

If we build it they will come, a panel discussion exploring how precarious living conditions have led many artists and arts organisations to address the housing needs of artists. James Lander and architect Stephane Chadwick are joined by artist Verity Jane-Keefe and Diana Ibáñez López, academic and head of capital projects at Create London, to discuss their respective projects and the social opportunities and challenges these projects consider.

Don’t Mourn, a workshop led by Siôn Whellens of creative design and print workers’ cooperative Calverts and Alberto Duman, an artist and lecturer at Middlesex University. With reference to artist-led cooperative organisations in London, the workshop will focus on how to connect people in a positive, practical and forward-looking way that can also help them to realise collective actions.

The day will wind down with drinks at nearby pub The Abbey Arms.

Assembly Thamesmead takes place Saturday 26 October 2019 at The Lakeside Centre, Bazalgette Way, London, SE2 9AN. For more details and book your place see www.a-n.co.uk/assembly/assembly-thamesmead

Artist as activist, activator and change maker

With AirSpace Gallery as its hub but taking place across several venues around the city, Assembly Stoke-on-Trent focuses on activism in the arts and the artist as activist, activator and change maker.

The one-day event will also create space to talk about how artists balance their lives with the work that they do.

Led by Anna Francis and Rebecca Davies from The Portland Inn Project, a series of provocations, discussions, hands-on actions and social activity will raise questions and create space to explore answers together around a set of themes which include:

Environment and Sustainable Practices: What if we only work where we live?

Housing and Property: What are the best ways to tool up, educate ourselves and work together to protect what is ours? Exploring methods to create people-led, collaborative visions for the future of public ‘property’.

Living as Practice: The role of the artist in society. The responsible artist has the weight of the world on their shoulders, but this can be exhausting – how do we balance that?

Disobedience: ‘Shaking the table’ and creating space to discuss issues of equality and diversity activism in the arts.

The day will kick-off with a morning panel session, Setting the Scene. Presentations include Glen Stoker of AirSpace Gallery who will discuss the artist-led scene in the West Midlands, artist Jessica Longmore who will focus on making equality and diversity part of the conversation, people-focused arts organisation Restoke discussing its collaborative practice, and architect Gemma Holyoak looking at property in relation to artists.

This will be followed by a series of Afternoon Workshops based on the Assembly Stoke-on-Trent themes, with guests invited to participate in two workshops from a choice of four:

Lydia Catterall’s discussion-based workshop Environment and Sustainable Practice will explore sustainability from a personal perspective, and will unpack the idea that using what you’ve got doesn’t necessarily keep you where you are;

Clare Reynolds of Restoke will lead Living as Practice, a workshop focused on her understanding of nurturing as part of the creative process and how we look after each other and ourselves in co-created work and social arts projects;

Gemma Holyoak and Michael Kennedy’s Housing and Property is a gameplay workshop in which players test how various inputs affect how homes look, feel and perform;

Jessica Longmore and Sarah Taylor Silverwood’s session Disobedience is a collaborative zine-making workshop which interrogates the concept of ‘the table’.

Alongside these workshops, NTRPRNRS will run a drop-in screenprinting session where guests can print an Assembly Stoke Slogan.

Following these workshops, attendees will reconvene for Provocation and Discussion, an invitation to deliver a two-minute provocation exploring resilience, resistance and activism, and in response to the day’s talks and workshops.

The day comes to a close with a Social event and celebration of the working men’s club and local pub taking place at AirSpace Gallery with Rebecca Davies playing host alongside DJ Calum Murphy.

Assembly Stoke-on-Trent takes place  Saturday 23 November 2019 at AirSpace Gallery, 4 Broad Street, Stoke-on-Trent ST1 4HL and various venues around the city. For more details and to book your place see www.a-n.co.uk/assembly/assembly-stoke-on-trent

1. Panel featuring D2. Underpinning and Wagon, at Assembly Aberdeen, July 2019. Photo: Abby Quick
2. A+E workshop, Assembly Aberdeen, July 2019. Photo: Abby Quick
3. Artist Owen Griffiths talks to Assembly participants in the Graft garden at National Waterfront Museum, Swansea during a-n Assembly Swansea, May 2019. Photo: Johan Butenschøn Skre

More on a-n.co.uk:

Assembly Aberdeen: “A city where grassroots artist and cultural activity has blossomed”

Assembly Swansea: “It’s a radical act to accept the place you’re in now”

Latest Assembly resources: Including video profiles of A+E collective, D2Dain’ HingsJo CapperGaada ProjectsUnderpinning and Wagon recorded at Assembly Aberdeen.