In a search for idea on how to commercialize our practice and where to find our place in the ‘art world..’, led by the energy excess and advice given by those more experienced we decided to form a COLLECTIVE. By we I mean Phoebe Banks, Jess Wilson-Leigh, Jake Shepherd, Jamie Dyer and I.
Things started on our study trip to Tallinn, where almost every evening, above pints, we were discussing the impressions that Tallinn’s scene made on us. We all concluded, that it is only up to us whether we do something or not.
So here we go.
The things kicked off thanks to our tutor, who organised for us a stall at Art and Culture Expo in Sir Ian Wood building. At that point we didn’t really know what we wanted to be doing, however our main aim was to liberate Gray’s students from social exclusion and them together with local artistic ‘elderly’. What we also wanted to do, was to create something that maybe in other schools would be called a union, but for us it meant a series of events where we could socialize on a neutral ground and nice surroundings.
Because the things were happening very quick, we had to make determined decisions. To look more professional (serious? 🙂 we organized a small exhibition in our project space. With the zines and business cards delivered just moments before the event, we were all ready to sparkle and make new contacts. It was very surprising to see the welcoming attitude from some art institutions.
Right after the expo we started to receive first offers. First one came from Aberdeen Youth Festival about paid kids workshops. The other, after sending over a written proposal came from the Anatomy Rooms.
That’s how the proposal looked like:
I am writing on behalf of Gray Square collective.
Following our discussion at the Art and Culture Expo at RGU, we are interested in using your space to hold various events aimed at Aberdeen’s creative community, associated around Gray’s School of Art. We would like the events to be named “Grays @…”, in this case “Grays @ the Anatomy Rooms”, and our first idea is for a film screening event in which we would like to show a selection of short documentary films. These films would be accompanied by short presentations, hopefully leading to interesting discussion. From that we are hoping to locate Aberdeen based film makers, and other artists, to share their work with a wider audience, again leading to stimulating conversation. Creating a social space for intellectual exchange between Aberdeen’s established artistic community and emerging artists, is an aim of ours.
Another idea we wish to pursue, is end of year auction for Fine Art students. Through this event we would like to give students the opportunity to engage with an out of the Art School audience and to experience the selling process. We also see this as a chance of creating a relationship between wider audience and Aberdeen’s only Art School.
We would like the Anatomy Rooms to be involved in our project because we see your organisation as an important asset to Aberdeen’s developing art culture. We would be delighted if you would consider this proposal and help us to improve the local art scene.
Looking forward to hearing from you.
Coincidentally, the Anatomy Rooms team was just planning to host Nuart Festival. Therefore we were offered to take part in a kick off event on the 13th April, specifically to organize a socializing event including music and visuals in the project room. We also used this opportunity to set up a little exhibition.
But one after the other….
The first event we managed to organize was a club night for Gray’s students on the 31st March. Not without hiccups, we managed to book a decent space holding 90 people. I don’t want to go into to much details about the organization but the cooperation went really well. No drama, everyone was focused on their duties, everyone wanted this event to happen. In the end the night was fantastic, we received lots of very positive feedback. The venue’s manager offered us to host a similar event monthly. I think it was a big success.
It was also very special night for me, because it was my first time djing and I loved it!
Next were the kids workshops over the Easter week. Very challenging task, needing lots of preparation. We were meeting Jessie from Aberdeen Youth festival every Monday for few weeks before the workshops to discuss the structure and materials we needed. We were expected to plan and prepare the workshops in terms of the content and structure. The festival supplied us with necessary materials. The workshops had to be planned for 20 kids every day.
We were running those workshops in pairs, each person doing two days of the week. We were designing the workshops in terms of our own interests. In the end, Jamie and I were doing the sound workshop on Wednesday, and then Phoebe and I did a textile/ weaving workshops.
The sound workshop included exploring the sounds of recyclable materials and objects found on the beach, creating a soundscape, playing a sound bingo and a game where kids had to play following our directions. The weaving workshop/ textile workshop included creating hot airs balloons using woven baskets and painted/ printed tote bags.
The workshops were very challenging. Firstly, the kids were in different ages starting from toddlers, finishing on teenagers. Therefore, it was very difficult to keep everyone entertained all the time. Secondly, I think we realized how working with kids was difficult- if something wasn’t perfectly planned the workshops were going wrong. On the other hand, in case kids didn’t want to do something, we had to be ready to change the plans slightly. Finally, some of the kids had special needs, were loud/ misbehaving. In the end I think we finished those workshops with lots of precious experience, we will probably need in the future.
On a day prior to the event at the Anatomy Rooms we organized another small, project- space exhibition, which in my opinion worked very well. It included three video works by Phoebe, Jess, and I, and two impressive sculptures/ installations by Jake and Jamie. I loved the aesthetics of the exhibition, in my mind it stayed as a visual inspiration that we could be using in the future events outside Gray’s.
Finally, the recent event at the Anatomy Rooms, which I mentioned before. After the club night we did in March, the target was set very high. I gladly took another opportunity to dj, but the task was this time a bit more difficult, because we weren’t quite sure what the event would be like. I prepared then a set of calmer, yet still pleasant ambient which was great fun. As the night was evolving, the atmosphere was getting more and more unhampered. Again, we received lots of positive feedback. The Anatomy Rooms after this event is open for more cooperation.
So we are finishing this semester with lots of positive attitude and plans for the future. We are planning to organize an art auction for Gray’s students as well as we have some shy plans to go with our events/ exhibitions outside Aberdeen.