Plymouth is fast creating a heritage of cutting edge, engaging contemporary art, and one notch on the creative dial is the Plymouth Art Weekender
Running from Friday, September 27 to Sunday, September 29, Plymouth Art Weekend will take over venues through Britain’s Ocean City.
Exhibitions and events
There will be exhibitions, events, and community-based activities. All of which will invite dialogue, prompt questions, drive analysis and contemplation of life and the world as we know it.
The Plymouth Art Weekender Community Engagement Commission this year is with Dartmoor-based artists Tabatha Andrews and Tim Bolton.
Tabatha Andrews makes performative installations that explore how materials and energy can trigger memory and unsettle the senses. Her work responds to many different sites and contexts including galleries, forests, public spaces and hospitals, and she has worked with a variety of communities.
Tim Bolton is a sculptor and former vice-principal at Plymouth College of Art who previously worked in ceramics and glass. Tim and Tabatha are collaborating with seamstresses who worked at the original Jaeger textiles and clothes-making factory on the city’s Union Street.
Make It Up
Together they will be developing a series of eclectic, bespoke designs, borne from textile patterns to create objects and interactive activities that passers-by can engage with as part of a sculptural project entitled Make It Up.
The title, Make It Up is inspired by Elaine Scarry’s writings about the human ability to imagine and create artefacts – to ‘make things up’ and then ‘make them real.’
Over the Plymouth Art Weekender itself, Tabatha and Tim are planning to develop a series of large-scale, hard ‘block’ patterns, cut out of recycled materials. These will be abstract sets of instructions for imaginary objects that will be hung along Union Street, forcing dialogue and intriguing those who witness them.
The power of the arts and creativity
This year’s Community Engagement Commission sees the Weekender partner with Nudge Community Builders, a community benefit society that is bringing buildings and spaces back in to use on Union Street. Nudge’s funding from Creative Civic Change supports communities across England to use the power of the arts and creativity to create meaningful civic change in their areas. Celebrating it’s tenth birthday this year, the Union Street Party run by locals including those behind Nudge will be a great precursor to engaging with the final commission for the Weekender.
Tabatha told ArtsCulture: “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.”
The sculptural project was also partly inspired by Babcock International, based nearby in Plymouth, which constructs and maintains ocean-going vessels, and also has a department that tailors soft protective cases for a range of large scale abstract forms including heavy guns on warships, utilising a combination of sail-making and tailoring.
There are currently a number of Babcock apprentices working on such cases at Makers HQ so the history and future of tailoring in Plymouth doesn’t just relate to clothing, it is also architectural.
Makers HQ is an 18-month old Community Interest Company (CIC). Set up as a collaboration between Millfields Trust, Plymouth College of Art and the local Stonehouse community to establish a fashion factory on Union Street and to reignite fashion and textiles manufacturing in the city. Its vision is to create jobs and provide work opportunities through its sampling studio and all profits are reinvested into the provision of training and education programmes.
Ambitious artistic activity
Founded in 2015 by Visual Arts Plymouth CIC (VAP), after the British Art Show 7 in 2011 saw a growing appetite for ambitious artistic activity in the city, the Plymouth Art Weekender started off as a grassroots experiment to bring together emerging and existing artists in a ‘fringe-like’ fashion.
The collaborative event has grown in magnitude and last year, the Weekender partnered with The Atlantic Project, a pilot for a biennial for Plymouth to bring a set of renowned international artists and a programme of commissions across the city on the same weekend.
As part of a unique city set up, new contemporary art production agency, Flock South West is coordinating and managing the Weekender in 2019 and 2020. Passionate about helping to develop and deliver artist, curator and producer led projects, Flock South West pools together the extensive collective experience of its directors and other associates working in the city to provide production support for small and large creative projects.
A dynamic, sustainable visual arts ecologyPaul Brookes, acting chief executive of The Box
Paul Brookes, acting chief executive of The Box said: “A fundamental aim of The Box is to create opportunities and platforms for artists to showcase their work in the city, and to develop a dynamic, sustainable visual arts ecology in which artists are enabled to live, work and thrive.
“The Plymouth Art Weekender contributes to this ecology, in particular the opportunities it provides for artists studying, living and working in Plymouth.”
The Plymouth Art Weekender takes place on Friday 27 – Sunday 29 September 2019. You can visit a market stall in the Pannier Market on the Friday and Saturday, which will serve as a focal point and central information hub across the weekend.
For more information about the event, go to https://plymouthartweekender.com/
Plymouth Art Weekender 2019 is supported by Arts Council England National Lottery Grant Project Funding, Plymouth City Council, The Box and a successful crowdfunder campaign.
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