Plymouth Art Weekender, which this year takes place from Friday 27 to Sunday 29 September, has announced Dartmoor-based artists Tabatha Andrews and Tim Bolton as the recipients of its Community Engagement Commission.

The commission will be presented in partnership with Nudge Community Builders, a community benefit society that is bringing buildings and spaces back in to use on Plymouth’s Union Street.

For the project the artists will collaborate with seamstresses who worked at the original Jaeger textiles and clothes-making factory on Union Street. They will delve into the site’s textile history while also drawing on Plymouth’s naval present and past.

The pair’s sculptural project, entitled ‘Make It Up’, will draw on textile patterns to develop a series of objects and interactive activities for passersby to engage with.

An initial iteration of the work will be presented prior to the weekender at the Union Street Party on Sunday 15 September.

Andrews said: “We’re really excited to bring ‘Make It Up’ to Plymouth. We really want people to have fun, use their imaginations and come on a journey with us.

“Working with original Jaeger seamstresses, the project will explore connections between one object, body or place and another, breaking down the distinction between the human subject and our environment and unpicking the idea of the ‘bespoke’, the ‘made to measure’, and our personal preferences and aspirations.”

Andrews’ practice involves performative installations that explore how materials and energy can ‘trigger memory and unsettle the senses’. Bolton is a sculptor and former vice-principal at Plymouth College of Art who previously worked in ceramics and glass.

The opening event for the weekender will take place on the evening of Friday 27  September at KARST, Plymouth’s largest artist-led contemporary art venue which is also an ACE national portfolio organisation (NPO).

The event will also mark the opening of the group exhibition, ‘Bad Actors’, featuring work by eight artists including Gillian Ayres, Sandra Blow and Dominic Kennedy.

Other weekender events include the group show ‘Notopia’, a survey of work from artists born between the 1990s and early 2000s which will showcase how this generation is ‘finding new avenues to continue networking, exhibiting, and asking questions regardless of location or financial situation’.

Elsewhere, the performance ‘Fish in Blender’ will be taking place in city centre locations across the three days, providing comment on contemporary politics with a ‘thought provoking performance centred on accountability, empathy, and just how bad society is willing to let things get before taking action’.

WestfordNeedles meanwhile will showcase ‘Wayne’s War of the World’, a mash-up live performance that will mark ‘the latest recolonisation of the atmosphere, the apocalyptical ‘Trumpson’ era, and the glory of pre-internet memes’. 

This year’s weekender is coordinated and managed by new ontemporary art production agency, Flock South West.

The community interest company’s co-director Lucy Stella Rollins said: “We have a plethora of exciting and ambitious artists showcasing their work this year with listings ranging from exhibitions, workshops and other dynamic activity to take place across the city.

“Expect everything from subtle interventions to performative spectacles in this year’s showcase of the city’s creative talent.” 

Plymouth Art Weekender was founded in 2015 by Visual Arts Plymouth CIC (VAP) as an artist-led, grassroots event bringing together visual art activity in the city for one weekend.

It has grown each year and last year partnered with The Atlantic Project, a pilot for an international contemporary art biennial for Plymouth.

Full listings for the whole 2019 weekend will be live on the Plymouth Art Weekender website from 6 September.

Plymouth Art Weekender runs from Friday 27 to Sunday 29 September.

1. Tabatha Andrews, Listening Objects, 2014-2019. Image courtesy: Tabatha Andrews
2. Tabatha Andrews, The Dispensary, 2016. A cabinet of curiosities for people with dementia at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. Made in collaboration with patients and Devon and Cornwall local woodturning groups. This work won the Building Better Healthcare Award 2017. Image courtesy: RSS and Anne Purkiss

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