Published: 29 November 2018
This is an odd blog post to be writing, but I am leaving Axisweb and MMU to take up a new role as a Research Fellow at the University of Nottingham next week and wanted to say bye, and share a few things from working on the Models of Validation Project and the Social Works? Programme! First off is a massive THANK YOU to all the amaze people I have worked with on the Axisweb team, Amanda and everyone I have met/spoken to who has been involved in the project.
It was a really thought-provoking, intense and humbling experience to work with people committed to social practice in such significant ways. It was always our intention to base this project around asking artists what they need to practice better/have more off, and then find a way of trying to make it happen. I feel like this method (i.e speaking to people and asking) is a good way of designing anything that is meant for any group of people, but is infrequent way of approaching things in the arts. Obviously there are certains restrictions around this (no one gets exactly what they want etc etc) but it was a good place to start. We reused this open-ended method for the Social Works? programme , which was a series of get-togethers, workshops and critical writing commissions that addressed the gaps in the field identified by the initial stage of ‘asking’. We deliberately kept the open calls for these opportunities flexible and simple.
All the get-togethers enabled artists who are usually isolated from one another to meet in person (properly funded) and make new connections and support groups in the field of socially engaged art. The writing was sooo important, and as a collected set of articles, letters and reflections, Social Works?: Open is the first critical, practitioner lead publication on socially engaged art in the UK that addresses lots of issues that funders, curators, commissioners, other artists, writers, researchers and academics should be taking note of. I am really proud of this work and it is our intention that the publication is the first of several Social Works? Publications featuring properly funded critical writing on socially engaged practice going forward into 2019.
I intend to keep in touch with the project as it develops. so I am not totally leaving everyone (can you tell I am sad). Anyway see ya for now and shout out to Silver Spice - the best home cooked curry in Wakefield where EVERYONE should be going for their £2.75 curry lunches - personal fave: potato and aubergine.