Plymouth Art Weekender interview

Laura Denning

Laura Denning, Benthic Caress - Devil's Point Tidal Pool. Photo: Rod Gonzalez

An interview with Cat Bagg from Field Notes who are coordinating this year's Plymouth Art Weekender taking place 28 - 30 September 2018



Tell us a little bit about the history of the Plymouth Art Weekender - how did it start?

Plymouth Art Weekender was started by Visual Arts Plymouth (VAP), a voluntary group made up of representatives from many of Plymouth’s arts institutions and artist led organisations as well as independent artists.

They wanted to create a non-hierarchical platform to celebrate the depth and range of creative activity in the city, drawing it all together for one huge weekend of art.

The first Weekender took place in 2015 and since then it has nearly tripled in size with more artists, more venues and more commissioning opportunities. In the past, VAP has commissioned works from Serena Korda, Reactor, Edwin Burdis & Tom Woolner, and Bram Thomas Arnold.

Can you tell us about this year’s event - what’s the format and what can people expect to see?

The Weekender is a city wide celebration of visual art in all its forms. It includes exhibitions and events organised by Plymouth’s many fantastic arts organisations, as well as an exciting new international commissioning programme, The Atlantic Project.

But the heart of the Weekender is really the many self organised exhibitions, performances, events, workshops and parties created by artists from Plymouth and beyond. This year you can explore around 140 projects taking place across the city and online.

Bridgette Ashton

Bridgette Ashton, Sketch collage for Worth's Folly

Who are this year’s commissioned artists?

We’re really excited about the three commissions this year. Cornwall based, Bridgette Ashton, is working with The Box (the city’s museum) to delve into the history of Plymouth’s Cattedown Bone Caves, where some of the earliest human remains were discovered. Bridgette will be leading clandestine bus tours to the site, and is creating a temporary scale model of the caves, which will be sited on the street between the Theatre Royal and Plymouth Athenaeum.

Go Happen are an artist partnership that have a long standing fascination with the Golden Globe race, a solo yacht race that sees adventurers circumnavigate the world without the use of technology, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. For their commission they’re exploring the story of Bernard Moitessier who embarked on the race from Plymouth in 1968 and travelled one and a half times around the globe. Look out for a boat traversing the central shopping street of Armada Way, to find out more.

The third commissioned artist, Plymouth based Laura Denning had been using the Weekender as an opportunity to push the boundaries of her practice over the last few years, and realised a stand out independent project called Benthic Caress at last year’s Weekender. This year she’s working with members of Plymouth’s D/deaf community to form a signing choir who’ll perform a specially adapted text based on Hydrofeminism, which explores the fundamental links between humans and water.

Navigate Go Happen

Go Happen, Navigate

Could you tell us a little bit about Field Notes, the curatorial project you run with Rosie Allen, and how they got involved in this year’s event?

Field Notes is a contemporary art projects organisation Rosie and I set up in 2014. Since then we’ve been commissioning new art, supporting emerging artists to make things happen, running large scale arts festivals, and bringing exciting contemporary art to audiences whose access might otherwise be limited.

We took over the coordinator role from Gordon Dalton in 2017, so this is our second Weekender working with VAP, Plymouth City Council and Horizon (a two year Arts Council England funded programme which the Weekender 2017 & 2018 is part of). It’s fantastic to have such an insight into the City’s arts ecology and to meet and work with so many of the artists and organisers who make things happen.

How can people get involved in Plymouth Art Weekender?

Everything is in place for this year, so the best way to get involved is to come along and make your way to as many venues and events as possible!

If you’d like to plan a visit, the Weekender map is now live on the website and there’s a downloadable pdf version of the programme - print copies will start to appear at arts and community venues across Plymouth from around 15th September.

We have also begun to put together some pathways to help visitors navigate the Weekender, whether your interest is in international or critical practices, strange locations, or getting involved with workshops and performances.

What would you like visitors to take away from the Plymouth Art Weekender?

It’s a really important time for culture in the City - there is a huge amount of energy and time being poured into the arts, and the Weekender is a true DIY outcome of this.

We want our visitors to come away with a real sense of the spirit, talent, and excitement that’s bubbling away in Plymouth’s creative scene and an understanding of how active the city’s artists are.

Plymouth Art Weekender takes place 28 - 30 September 2018