Anna Francis & Andy Branscombe (and Rowan)
with Jo Thomas and Jack Brown
The Royal Standard, Liverpool
15th March 2015
JB: So we are at the end of almost two years of going around the UK. The purpose is to try and capture what is happening with artists and organisations who are public realm engaged and not really through design but through how it has turned out we haven’t been speaking to the big hitters or the really big funded galleries,
JT: We haven’t even been talking to galleries - we’ve been speaking to individual artists and collaborations. Then from an initial map of where we wanted to go we’ve been listening to people on the first trip who said you should go here and that’s made the next trip and the next trip.
JB: How many people have we spoken to - 20 odd?
JT: Easily. I think it is more than that.
JB: This is our last trip so yesterday we spoke to 3 artists who are all Liverpool based and we’ve got you guys to finish off with.
JB: And then it’s trying to pull it together I think the important thing now it is trying to make sure what we have is put together and is useful and people would actually read it. So it is not a dry book of text that people can’t get their head into.
JT: Things that have stood out have been the differences in different areas about how artists are operating, making things happen and expectations of how to make a living, that sort of thing. There are different moods and different optimisms as well.
JB: And I hope by the time we bring it all together it should illustrate and show other people who might not really not understand but don't see the importance of it yet it will show the rigour and the work and seriousness of it. People are really at it and aren’t doing as a kind of here’s my practice and I do a public practice on the side.
AF: It's embedded.
JT: I think also the opportunity because the arts council is funding us to feed that back. A lot of the projects are maybe ones that fall outside criteria or haven’t happened because they are self initiated, they are from that interest and they take off. So you can't plan it in an outcome way.
I think that is indicative of everything we have done. Things just happen.
JB: Probably half the people we have spoken to are also organisers or curate or run projects
JT: It sort of makes sense in a way
JB: And we had a caravan but we don’t have one any more.
AF: So maybe Andy if you give a background to when and why Airspace started that might be a good place to start.
AB: Okay, The idea came up it was myself and guy called Dave Bethal and we were BA students at Staffs University which is based in Stoke and while we were there we were thinking there isn’t anywhere locally to us see the temporary work that we were working with.
Towards the end of the course we came up with the idea of once we had finished we would see about setting up a space where artists like ourselves would work in the studio space but also we would have a gallery space and bring people from outside to show. So we did that. And that was around 2005 we graduated. We spent about a year planning and finding space. And eventually we found one which is an old factory.
And we also did a bit of fundraising and getting a group of people together to help us. We renovated a warehouse section as best we could it was full of pigeon muck and those things. And then we did it was late 2006 we did a show and it went quite well. And that led on to us doing secret gigs on a few occasions which were pretty good.
JB: So can you describe a secret gig
Basically we were quite into the local band scene and a few of them we invited along come and do nights often attached to artistic things that were happening so we had performance artists and that. We did it all a little bit hush hush because we were basically outside the city centre and a little bit remote from people so we got away with quite a lot of stuff there. So that was really good. It was quite a nice mix of art and music.
We were there for about a year and it started to get a bit too much. It was a really cold space, very insecure. Basically cos it had no windows or any security whatsoever. So people were breaking in. We lost the use of electricity going.
So it really was like going down to do with the landlords so we had to have generators and the generators kept getting nicked.
So we looked around for another space. And we were offered - it is an old show room - it was built by the gas lighting company of the city so it was there show room for gas fitting.
Quite a nice stone frontage, Victorian building. It was owned by the city council and to get it up to standard it would have cost them too much. We were basically offered that for around the same time period about a year and we are still there.
AF: That was 2007
JB: So how did you negotiate that? What happened to keep it going?
AB: It is hard to say really I think we made ourselves important enough to what was called the cultural development team; the arts officers with the city council.
AF: The gallery is situated in what they call the cultural quarter so in 2007 the CQ consisted of the museum and a theatre and that was about it. So I think it was quite strategic that the council wanted something. Basically for very little effort on their part we provided quite a big contemporary cultural programme. So that works really well for them and it works well for us.
The only problem is we are on a 1 month rolling lease.
AF: so at any point they could say we would like the building back and we did worry about that quite a lot in the early years but we don’t worry about that any more. It is energy wasted.
JT: but that does change your ability to get funding?
AB: We can’t get funding for the building for example so it limits what we can do. We always ask for letters of support from the council offices in keeping the building on as an art space.
JB: So are you always looking for another space then.
AF: We don’t look for another space.
A: No just carry on.
JT: That sounds quite familiar. There’s a space I’ve been involved with on and off for about 10 years when we didn’t even have a lease. We made sure we were reliable tenants and just kept quiet.
AF: Making sure that it is clear to the council and in particular the cultural development team that their strategic aims are being delivered by us without much investment on their part. I think that’s quite important. It doesn’t actually impact the way we work. We don’t plan what we do based on that. We just make sure that we tell them how that is happening. We don't think let’s do that project. It means that we can’t, we would like to develop the building and we would like to have a print space and things like that. The building has its limitations because there is no heating in most of the building. On whole it is really good.
JT: Are there any things you wouldn’t programme because of that relationship?
We programme as if are still going to have the building for 3 years or whatever. The very particular thing about Stoke on Trent is that there are loads of empty buildings and it is easy to get hold of them and we are in a consortium with a project which started last September called
Art City which the council ... its Esme Fairbairn funded... This project Art City and the council have committed any council building across the city the arts can use. And the arts have got money to do that. And we are one of the consortium members.
AF: We have worked with lots of buildings in the city over the years with different projects. Some empty shops but also accessing heritage buildings which have been disused and working with key holders or trusts to bring art into those spaces.
JB: With all the empty buildings, is it in decline? Why are there loads of empty buildings?
AF: There are loads of empty buildings because its post industrial. And because Stokes industry lasted a lot longer than other places so we are behind with the regeneration. At the moment it feels really positive in the city. There is quite a lot going on. Just recently there are a lot of people talking about opening creative spaces or opening studios. Which is really interesting for us because we have been alone in the city for a long time and so it is really positive for us to see that.
JB: Is there craft as well? And small traders?
AF: It is interesting that the ceramic side of things which you would expect from the potteries isn’t quite as thriving. There are some potteries still working. And there are some small potteries, one person businesses, that are doing well. Not so much that side of things. It is more fine artists and participatory arts in Stoke.
JT: So there seems to be quite a strong take up of the arts community wanting to...
AF: At the moment yes and there is a real kind of energy developing that and making it into a place and a city where that can happen a bit more.
JB: Where are all the artists coming from? Is it through a University? One of the issues is there has been low graduate retention in Stoke previously. At Airspace gallery, it is our third year of running a graduate residency scheme where we give 6 months free studio to two graduates and mentoring across that 6 months and a solo show at the end.
JT: How do you select them?
AF: We just put out an open call actually, graduates from all over the country apply.
JT: Oh good.
AF: And then we have someone from our studio, someone from our board and usually we have an independent person. I think last year we had Emily Speed, and they do an interview and they are selected that way. So for us that was because we recognised that there wasn’t that much 3 years ago it actually that has changed quite a lot. There are quite a few new schemes that are supporting artists in the city.
JT: Are there many artists contributing to the change in the city?
AF: I think they are starting to be and I think what is recognised over the years there have been loads of council initiatives where people have tried to lead on things and it has always been project based you know a festival happens and then when it ends it doesn’t leave a legacy.
At the moment we have got the appetite through the Creative People and Places thing happening because Stoke is one of the low uptake in the arts place but I think with the Art City project you are just starting to see the arts organisations that operate in Stoke in the starting to work together to plan something that is slightly more joined up. It is starting but it hasn’t done in the past.
AF: Do you want me to talk about how I got involved in Airspace? So I got involved in 2006 because they asked me to curate an exhibition around my practice. Because my practice looks at and has looked at …..for quite some time the impact of regeneration on people and also the other way round thinking about artists and the impact artists and art organisation have on the places where they are. So they asked me to curate a show in 2007 and so I got involved that way.
In my practice I am nearly always looking at how artists can intervene, I am looking at gaps.
JB: I have still got you ‘don't mind the gap’ badge.
AF: Oh yeah and sort of thinking about how as an artist you draw attention to an interruption or a gap or an issue and then temporarily fill the gap in order to then hopefully suggest to others that the gap needs filling or to draw attention to the gap. Quite a few projects that I thought might be worth mentioning in 2007/8, I was doing a project where I was exploring Stoke on Trent (I was given a bursary to do that) and found that there was no tour guide for Stoke which was really interesting to me.
AF: First of all the tourist information is hardly ever open and then I went there to find out what they would suggest I could do and discovered there was no tour guide so I became the tour guide for Stoke and led some tours around the city showing actual regeneration.
So that was one project and then another which is from 2010 is Park Traces which is a project our studios did which I led on. I guess it is useful to mention I do a lot of or have over the past which looks like consultation, which borrows regeneration consultation as arts practice as a way of questioning the processes and the language and things like that. Then weirdly in 2010 I was employed to help to lead on teaching on those participatory consultation skills to community members in Stoke who became a research team to look at the area around our local park to find out what the issues are with the park because it has been quite a neglected space. So it was quite odd there for me something I did almost exploring it to critiquing it then actually being employed to do it was interesting.
JT: So did you have reservations about doing it because of that?
AF: Yes, It was really odd, so the people who were employing me I was saying .. err but you do realise and they were saying ‘Yes you still are doing it and you do it really well so we are employing you to teach the community to become a research team’ and we worked with them and did this community research. It found a few issues about the park: people do not want to go into the park because of antisocial behaviour and people’s perception of the park is it is not a safe space to be.
As a result of that project we were given some funding to create an arts project over a weekend as a way of bringing people into the park. So this is the art project we were commissioned to do.
We worked with studio artists and other artists applied as well. I was leading on this, I was project managing it and also as an artist in it my project was to… I noticed that since 1997, I had noticed there had never been anything happening on the bandstand, so that’s the kind of thing I would notice and so my project was to repopulate the bandstand, so I employed a brass band, I put up bunting and flower baskets, got chairs and gave out ice creams and activated the bandstand just for the event as a way to draw attention to fact ...
JB: It had been empty.
AF: and since that ... regular things started to happen on the bandstand. Someone was saying to me, with the project then, are you going programme some more on the bandstand. It was really important I say no. I am not a bandstand programmer I am an artist and I was drawing attention to it. It’s someone else job to ...
JB: It is like you said. There’s a gap.
AF: Yeah I’m not saying that my result is the right one.
JT: It is not your responsibility to plug that gap for ever.
AF: Yes just to draw attention to it I think that is how I work. Over the years I have honed that as a way of working. In 2012 we did a residency in Harlech in N. Wales and had a similar approach. Just go and spend time somewhere even if you don’t know the place. And find out from people who live there.
JB: When you say we?
AF: Myself and Andy, my partner but we went as artists separately. So I spent some time finding out what the issues are for people who live in Harlech and learnt that they were really concerned about tourism is Harlech and the landlady from the local pub was really angry because they had a shelf full of leaflets about places nearby but nothing about Harlech.
JB: That makes sense.
AF: She was saying someone comes in and drops all these leaflets regularly but there is nothing to tell people to stay here and spend money here. So I decided to work with her to design the leaflet for Harlech. She told where I needed to go and what to photograph for the brochure. I did a few other things whilst I was in Harlech. We were only there for a week. I didn’t realise, thinking about before I came I was thinking about what I shall tell you about. I was asking Andy he said we were only there a week. So for the landlady of the pub that was really important that she took ownership and she took it to the group that was leading on tourism in Harlech. She was really happy about what we had achieved and emailed me saying “thanks for helping me to do this.” So she felt it was her thing rather than mine. That’s the sort of stuff I do as an artist when I go to other places. I do quite a lot of residencies. I went to Japan. But while I am anywhere else I am thinking about Stoke.
JB: Everything comes back to Stoke?
AF: Yes, I think so. Because that it where we live. I see what other projects are doing elsewhere and what does that mean for us in Stoke.
JB: Were you born in Stoke?
AF: No, I moved to Stoke in 1997 to do my degree and then stayed there to do my MA and then I left to do a PGCE and went to Japan for a bit... I ended up being in Stoke because I was given some teaching at the University so I moved back in 2005.
JB: It has obviously become, it is an extremely important place for you now it is home obviously.
AF: Yes, my family live here. My projects have been a lot looking at Stoke and the city, regeneration of the city. It started by looking at housing renewal in Stoke because like Liverpool we were part of the Pathfinder scheme which saw lots of housing and housing renewal and now we live in a £1 house which is a major regeneration project to try to undo some of the damage done. It is really interesting for us at artists who are quite engaged with our locality now start to think about how our projects can impact on where we live a bit more. Up to now we have been quite anonymous in the projects we have done.
JB: There have been other artists we have spoken to yesterday who have worked in communities separate to them and then when it gets close to them it’s like oh fuck, It’s strange when it get close like that.
AF: It is quite scary I think. I have worked in some really problem areas like Lozells and east Hanswell in Birmingham and you go home at the end of the day and people don’t know where you live. We’ve only lived in the £1 homes for six months now and I’m just starting to instigate a few community based projects. Because the area has a major hangover from all of the negative impact of what went on there. You become a bit of a target I think if you try to do something positive and that can be really tough to manage because everyone knows where you live.
JB: It’s like you're neighbours, as an artist or not you don't what to start an argument with your neighbours because you are going to live with them for the rest of your life. It becomes...
AF: Really real.
JB: Art and life get a bit too -
AF: I think that is really interesting and quite important.
JT: I think for me there is a difference between artists that will go into place as a performer and be an artist but actually meeting someone in Morrisons when you are shopping and having the same conversation and then go and be doing a workshop. It’s partly about pace, you can’t bomb in and do stuff or maybe you’ve got to be able to manage the stuff round the edges. Do you have particular strategies you use or are you developing them?
AF: I think we are developing them at the moment. I am not revealing my cards too much. So the people who live there don’t necessarily know what skills set I’ve. I know a lot about community development. I’m kind of... I am playing dumb a bit.
JB: A little bit...
JT: You have only lived there for 6 months
AF: Exactly, we are still gauging what issues are for people and not trying to upset people by making change too quickly.
JB: So the £1 houses, do they all have new tenants in?
AF: Yeah but they are all spread out.
JB: So they are spread within a community that is already there?
AF: So like there is a main street which is called Portand St. and then there are 4 streets and on the 4 streets spread across there are the thirty-three £1 houses. They really stick out because a lot of the houses are boarded up or are derelict or run down. And then you have got these are brand new facades, brand new doors and windows and things.
JB: Are there any houses that are occupied by the people who lived there before?
AF: So there are the existing community who have lived all the way through it. It’s really kind of, there is a lot of friction actually. There hasn’t been anything done in terms of community cohesion. So we have all arrived. The first community meeting that we had in about August lots of the existing community came to that to say basically you are not welcome here.This is where we live and we have lived though all this trouble and you have come along and have these brand new houses and it’s not fair.
JB: Which you can kind of understand
AF: Yes you can completely understand and even the people who had been really engaged with the community are so frustrated and pissed off. It’s really hard to get them to do anything with us because they are just a bit suspicious and don’t believe anything will change for the better.
It is difficult but we are just starting to think about some of the stuff we do at the gallery. How can we bring that into the £1 homes? So maybe to go backwards a bit and talk about our approach to looking at spaces in the city from the gallery point of view. We often look at gaps in brownfield sites. My practice also looks at brownfield sites.
One of the projects we did was to develop the space at the back of the gallery. Because it is a real rat run. I guess not knowing where we are. There was a big brownfield site where the cinema used to be. Tesco has bought that land and then because of that our back yard had loads of rats running through that all time.
JT: A literal rat run?
AF: It really was a rat run. Whenever we had visiting artists we would end up using that space. I guess this is an example of our approach. Thinking about who was using the space, yes the rats. We had been feeding birds out there for a long time. It was our approach, who was using that space, birds. So we developed that space into a bird garden. All the supporting insects and birds. And that project has led us to thinking differently about our skills and realising that we have got some good design skills. This project was really successful, we found a completely different audience coming to the gallery. They would engage with our programme in the gallery but actually for a lot of people that bird space was easier to talk and brought them in that way, and we really enjoyed doing this project as well. So have started looking at other sites we would use those skills. Glen will tell you a bit about the Spode Rose project. At the moment we are working on a project with the Women’s Institute and Sainsbury’s in our local park which we have worked in a few times. Both of these publications are from projects we have done in the park. It is a bit of a problem space where they used to have a few antisocial behaviour problems in that particular area of the park and now we are developing it into a nature haven so we are using our knowledge to transfer easily from birds to bees. It is very similar knowledge so it is developing into a bee friendly garden.
JT: So who initiated that project?
AF: Well I guess me. We had done loads of projects in the park. I gave a talk at the Women’s Institute about our bird Yarden and about our interest in thinking about brown field site and how artists can find interim uses for those sites and can repurpose them and I talked to them about my brownfield Ickybarna which is a series of workshops and also just making artworks which use stuff found on brownfield sites. And uses flower arranging which I learnt whilst doing a residency in Japan. Using like rubbish as vessels and weeds as the flowers. The WI were really interested in that. They had been approached by Sainsbury’s to try work on a project. And they were talking about doing something that is bee friendly because Sainsbury has got an aim to look at helping bees. So the WI then said what do you think the gallery could do with the two of us. And then our connections with the park - it made sense to join this all up and so now we are working on a design. It takes a bit longer because we have to do lots of risk assessments and stuff but hopefully in the summer we will be able to build a bee friendly garden there.
JT: How do you fund yourselves in this?
AF: Some of things we do aren’t funded. Other things... The things we’ve done in the park like Park Traces was a one year project. Over the year we had lots of different activity but we kind of say at the beginning of the year we are going to do a one year project and various things are going to happen and we don’t necessarily know what they are going to be. And then we just find funding for little bits and then over the year it becomes a programme. So for example I have just been working on a funding bid last week to the sustainable food city funding that is available at the moment in Stoke. For us to work (that is why I was talking about the green projects) with the £1 homes location and to try out some temporary food growing beds with kids round there.
So at the moment we are thinking as a gallery we want to increase our knowledge and experience with green projects that used disused sites in the city. So the sustainable cities one, we identified we want to do some projects around that and bit by bit we will get the pieces in place. And then we will look at how we can work with partners to make it happen. So applying for small pots of funding £500, £1000 and then try and encourage the council to give £500 to pay... whatever
And then we do have an Arts Council bid that we have got to get written for our next years programme. And our Arts Council funding bids usually have money in them for the community engagement and outreach projects which is interesting.
We used to have £500 bursaries or £500 small projects attached to programmes but we have realised because a lot of what we do is socially engaged or has some kind of community connection to it that way of having separate things doesn’t really fit. And actually the things we were doing to engage with the communities were often better quality than the things we were paying someone else to come in and do a mini project.
JB: Because they were becoming the drop in drop in.
AF: Yes and we were doing it because we wanted to see it happen in our programme and then we realised we were doing loads of it anyway.
JT: I think that's something really interesting, because part of me goes, so what you are saying is you are running the gallery and the gallery is running the projects.
JT: But actually is it more honest to say you are more a consortium of artists and to see it as a gallery might be misleading and galleries run things so you don’t need the artists? It is almost a curator artist argument.
AF: I think that is quite interesting because we have a gallery programme as well, we have a whole suite of exhibitions that are happening all the time but I think that it depends who is leading on what in a way with our programme. I am getting much more interested in what is happening outside the gallery which I have always been involved with anyway and I’m not thinking about being involved with the gallery programme.
Whereas somebody like Glen is really interested in getting more experience in the gallery side of things. But we do see the things as being really meshed together. When Glen tells you about some of the projects we have done in the gallery and some of the exhibitions that we run: they usually have an element where we are exploring similar themes or we are exploring the theory behind the stuff that we are doing in the public realm.
JT: I’m not quite sure what role you have at the gallery but it seems almost seems it is a continuation of your practice that is really quite fluid.
AF: Yes, I think that’s really quite important that it is an artist led gallery. At the moment there are three of us that are directors and that it definitely does show. We were talking in the car on the way over. And I think maybe 4 or 5 year ago I think the programme had become quite, not elitist, but the programme was definitely for artists; it wasn’t for communities and wasn’t something you could walk in off the street and engage with because the language used and the things being shown weren’t for the general public. I don’t think. But since myself and Andy and Glen have been the three people leading on it that’s changed quite a bit. It depends on the personnel doesn’t it?
JT: Yes totally.
JB: Has the directorship changed within that?
AF: Yes I guess, about three years ago, Andy Branscome and David Bethel started the gallery. David Bethel left and then myself and Glen became directors. And to some extent the last two years programme at Airspace I have I suppose I have become Artistic Director.
JT: So it has come much more about the interface between the gallery and the city and people of the city.
JB: Which seems totally linked to your practice as an artist.
AF: Yeah definitely. And so some of the exhibitions we have done like Small Change is a show that we did which was we brought in an outside curator in for but we put out a call. Small Change is a really fantastic book by Nabeel Hamdi I don’t know if you've read it.
AF: It is all about ground up development and how to look at the resources around you and then make use of those and feel that you able to be active in your life and in you community. And thinking about things locally and applying them globally. So it is a very interesting book. We are a gallery are interested in that ethos as well and I guess because artists we don't have endless resources and endless money so actually being quite resourceful about what you have got is really good.
JB: It’s intrinsic to how you must have to run that space as there isn’t much money sloshing around.
AF: So applying that Nabeel Hamdi Small Change ethos we do anyway in what we do. And we really wanted that and we do that with our projects. In the gallery programme we look at what that means elsewhere and we wanted to look at the theory of that. So Sevie Tsampalla came and she curated a show. And I think ... did you speak to Jayne Lawless?
JT/ JB: Yes, we did
AF: She was one of the artists in the show. And I guess it is very relevant to what we are talking about. That is key that is a good example of how we work. The gallery programme will be slightly more theoretical and will have an artists’ soup kitchen which is a project which I developed as well which is the more theoretical side. And then we have the practical side that happens out in the city.
JB: Would you say the audience for the gallery is a similar audience to when you are kind of working as an artist outside the gallery.
AF: I think it is different usually. But what is good is that you might do something out in the park and tell people did you know about our gallery? And then they will come and visit.
JB: So it’s way into it. And a bit like you were saying about the bird garden bit out the back it is possibly things that happen in the park you can talk about more easily than in the gallery. And it’s not in a white cube so you are not intimidated. You know the rules of a park you don’t know the rules of a gallery.
AF: Then we can go and do a project about birds and that’s really transferrable to lots of different places in the city. And then we can meet bird watchers who then learn that out the back of our gallery is a kestrel nesting and then they’ll come and spend time at our gallery watching.
JB: So we tried to ask how you would describe you practice and you’ve done it really well so far. When you talk about it do you talk about it as a whole thing or is it separated in your head when you describe it or is it a whole picture.
AF: If I give a talk about my work I usually talk about myself as an artist and then how that informs what I do as a curator and a director at Airspace.
JT: You see them as different roles.
AF: Yes I do actually. You see I’m a lecturer at the University and so I feel I’ve got a few different things. They do inform each other.
JB: It is interesting that you put you as an artist is at the top of that pile. Where as other people we have spoken to are kind of like I run this space here and I do my art like here.
AF: I think having seen how a lot of artist led spaces work and how the gallery can completely consume people and then it isn’t artist led anymore. And it has done in the past. I guess the constant is Andy he has been there all the way through. It is interesting to talk to him about which iterations of the gallery were most enjoyable. He enjoyed the bit when it was really free and where there was music. I think it has become more established. He still enjoys what he is doing. It has changed quite a lot I guess he enjoys stuff that happens outside the building. He is really good technical person so he can use his skills there.
JB: Are there any other contemporary spaces?
AF: Well there weren’t. Recently up the road from us there is a shop that’s opened, which is like a skate shop and upstairs there’s a gallery they’ve started to programme. They’ve only been open since the summer I think. They show more local artists and they very purposefully have been showing local artists recently.
JT: So sorry, are you different or are you local artist as well? You said local and I thought ummm.
AF: I think it’s quite odd. They have named their programme at the moment local artists and I did put social media the other day "what is a local artist. What am I then?”
JT: I think sometimes certainly outside London local is quite often perceived as meaning not such high quality.
JB: It can often, to other people, mean amateur actually.
AF: I think that is really interesting. At Airspace we don’t ever say that. We don’t ever say we work with national or local artists. We work with the artists that fit what we are doing at that time.
JT: If you get funding to make something happen do you cover your expenses and you don’t cover your neighbours.
AF: That’s the funny thing. There is another person who had moved into the £1 homes I’d presumed that we were going to do everything as volunteers. I don’t know why but I just presumed that we would because I thought that was how it would work. We were talking about she was going to charge people to join the choir and they would pay each week and she was saying "well that money will pay for my time" And I was really surprised. I hadn’t thought that you would get paid for your time.
JT: Why shouldn’t you value your time? If you were a local plumber doing work in your local area you wouldn’t think twice about charging for your time.
AF: No that’s really interesting.
JT: I think it’s quite an interesting question to end up on
JB: Yes how close can it get.
JB: You can zoom from the city to your street to the community you and your neighbour,
your back door, your back garden, kitchen where does it stop where can it physically stop as well
AF: But I suppose that is part of that ethos of Small Change .Your skills are a resource, your knowledge and experience are a resource and actually making a difference where you live. We do it as a gallery where we are based and the city around us but you can also do that with where you live and start to recognise in your neighbours as well that there are resources that are perhaps a bit untapped.
JB: It is something I am interested in. Because I worked locally in Hackney Wick for years and I have worked locally in Deptford for like 10 years. And I live in Crouch End and I have done nothing. I have always enjoyed being local somewhere where I don't live. So I work in Deptford pretty much everyday of the week and know it really well. There are ex-pupils from the school I have worked in who do ‘awright jack’ and they are like big black lads and I know them on the high st.
I have started to think about Crouch End because Crouch End is middle class is boring and easy. So you don't see the need there because everything is fine. People use the park there is no antisocial behaviour really... Surely I should be engaged in that as well because I am a local artist there.
JT: Yes, and there is really assumption that things that look middle class are fine on the outside are fine.
JB: Yes exactly.
JT: But maybe some really abject poverty that is not noticed or mental health issues not noticed. A lot of things that you just don't know because...
JB: Things that are rarely noticed.
JT: They don’t have a bulldozer at their front door.
JB: Also you’ll never read of an artist commissioned for Crouch End but you'll read of a commission for working with the community in Deptford because they are poor kids or a community in need.
JB: But you don't really get a commission to work in West London in a town house.
JB: Which seems ridiculous because they will be people in need there they’ll be kids under immense pressure because there with home tuition and violin lessons. ..
Shall we …
Glen can just join in...
We’ll do a casual hand over.
Maybe we should high five it
We can crack open sandwiches
And open my pie
Well thank you very much for coming.
It’s another facet we haven’t discussed before.
One thing I didn’t talk about is tool kits and work instructions.
Beneath the pavement.
I make the format and the methodology clear so other people can use it.
we just go whichever direction it will go...
Emily speed... very busy she designed this room with Flis we spoke with yesterday
I do think employ other artists up north there’s some good ones we've met.