Claire_Bryson_DSC04590Appointed in December 2016, Claire Bryson (née Bryden) joins Spacex as a member of the Board and will advise on digital marketing and audience development. Claire, who has been working in the area of marketing for over 10 years, returns to Spacex in this new capacity having carried out a digital media internship earlier in her career.

Claire said “My internship with Spacex was one of my first roles in digital marketing and helped me get into the specialist field. For me this links to a bigger story of how Spacex supports early career arts professionals and young people gain experience in the arts. It is a great chance for me to support and give back to Spacex and young people coming into the field today.”

Claire is the National Trust’s digital marketing consultant in the South West. Her role covers one of the largest regions in the country – from Land’s End to Poole and as far north as the Cotswolds. Setting the direction for digital campaigns across the SouthWest as well as being called on for advice from over 150 places and properties, Claire is part of the South West Digital Advisory Board for Heritage Organisations. With its core purpose to share knowledge in the sector and to collaborate.

Mark Waugh and Dom Jinks welcome Claire’s appointment saying
“Claire’s knowledge and experience in digital marketing is an excellent asset to the already diverse skill-set of the Board of Trustees and the ambitions of the organisation going forward. On behalf of everyone of the Board and the staff we would like to welcome Claire.”

Claire has already been instrumental in the development of a new digital marketing strategy and in the implementation of a new website development project which Spacex will be launching later this year. This development will offer greater accessibility and transparency in the organisations governance and open approach to partnership and collaboration. Find out more from Spacex’s website and follow them on social media.

For find out more about Spacex, their upcoming programme and more please visit www.spacex.org.uk

For more information and high res images please contact martyn@spacex.org.uk

Notes to Editor
Spacex enables access to contemporary visual art in the South West via a programme of projects and events. The organisation works with artists to realise ambitions, pursue new directions and take risks. Through investment in artists at a critical stage in their career, Spacex progresses emerging talent. As an educational charity Spacex has an excellent record of delivering innovative and accessible learning projects.

Claire Bryson (née Bryden) was appointed December 2016. Specialist Knowledge: Digital & Marketing. Claire is a digital marketing specialist who has worked for a variety of cultural organisations in London and the South West. She is currently working for The National Trust as Digital Marketing Communications Consultant South West. Claire completed a marketing internship at Spacex at an early stage in her career and she is keen to support Spacex to develop a Digital Strategy. www.twitter.com/shinyshoeclaire

9 February 2017

After a period of major organisational change which has seen Spacex move from its old gallery space to deliver a new and ambitious public programme, the organisation is pleased to announce the receipt of a major grant from Arts Council England.

The Arts Council have awarded Spacex £66,000 from their Grants for the Arts programme. This will invest in a programme of activity and audience development over the next 12 months.

The programme includes a playful and participatory project by Birmingham-based artist duo, Juneau Projects to reveal the breadth and ambition of professional and amateur creative practice. Entitled Makers of the Multiverse, Juneau Projects will work with artists, students and community groups and will create an evolving pavilion for performance and as a display space that will be open to the public next May.

Running throughout will be a series of Art Talks presented with education partners, University of Exeter and Exeter School of Art. The series will enable students and the public to engage with the best in contemporary art practice. These events will begin conversations with the invited artists about future projects in Exeter.

As part of this programme South Korean artist Young In Hong will present new artworks and a performance in Exeter and work with Spacex to continue developing a vibrant cultural offer for emerging neighbourhoods around the city.

Phil Gibby, Area Director, South West, Arts Council England, said:
‘We are very pleased to be supporting Spacex through our National Lottery funded Grants for the Arts programme. The award will help Spacex to develop participatory work with their local comunities, providing more oppertunities for engagement and extending networks. I look forward to seeing the results.’

Mark Waugh, Head of Research and Innovation for DACS and the Chair of the Board of Trustees explained:
‘Spacex is committed to supporting the breadth and ambition of professional and amateur creative practice in Exeter and beyond and are excited to be working with Juneau Projects to make this happen through a public Pavillon space.

Dom Jinks (Executive Director of Plymouth Culture) and the Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees added:
‘We are thrilled to have the continued support of Arts Council England. This funding ensures people from Exeter and the wider region can access Spacex exciting projects and activities.’

For more info about upcoming projects and events included in our programme please visit our website, Facebook and Twitter.

ENDS

Notes to the Editor
About Spacex

Collaboration lies at the heart of Spacex. It brings together artists and audiences, initiating dialogues and partnerships to develop projects and commissions. Spacex enables access to contemporary visual art in the South West via its programme of projects and events. Rooted in the locality of Exeter, the programme aims to contribute to a wider critical debate, regionally nationally and internationally. Spacex finds new ways to capture the interest of a wide range of people, inspiring engagement with and participation in contemporary art. www.spacex.org.uk

About Juneau Projects
Juneau Projects was formed in 2001 by Philip Duckworth and Ben Sadler. The majority of their work includes playful, participatory elements and involves projection, sound, music, animation and installation. They are particularly interested in the rapidly increasing speed of technological development, and its associated obsolescence. Recent works have evolved from an exploration of the role of artists through fictional depictions of societies experiencing the aftermath of technological break down. www.juneauprojects.co.uk

About Yong In Hong
Young In Hong is a South Korean artist now living and working in the South West of England. Young In develops site-specific installations, performance, embroidery paintings and drawings, with collaboration as a crucial part of her artistic process and practice. She holds a PhD in Fine Art from Goldsmiths College London and has been been exhibited internationally, notably ICA London (2015), Gwangju Biennale (2014), Plateau Museum, Seoul (2014), Museum of Art and Design, New York (2011), Saatchi Gallery (2010), and a special exhibition at Liverpool Biennale (2008). www.younginhong.com

10 January 2017

Feed Me, Rachel Maclean, 2015. Image courtesy of FVU

Feed Me, Rachel Maclean, 2015. Image courtesy of FVU

Modern life feeds us the line that happiness comes when we follow our desires. If you have a dream, then chase it. If you have an itch, then scratch it. If you have an urge, then satisfy it. But what if what made us happy only ever left us wanting more, or simply created an ever-bigger hole to fill? Instant gratification – the holy grail of our superficial, accelerated age – is increasingly only a click away; and yet, as we are liable to discover, its effects are frequently over just as quickly – bringing a feeling of emptiness and further intensifying the original craving. Will the next bite of the apple be enough? Is this appetite for consumption becoming addictive, even destructive? Can one have too much of a good thing?

British Art Show 8, Edinburgh. Feed Me, Rachel Maclean, 2015. Image courtesy of FVU. Photo: John McKenzie

British Art Show 8, Edinburgh. Feed Me, Rachel Maclean, 2015. Image courtesy of FVU. Photo: John McKenzie

Rachel Maclean’s Feed Me is a parable of the pleasures and perils of indulgence, and a wicked, waspish skit on a world where greed is good, and it’s OK to give in to every temptation and whim. Extravagance and excess, those seductive ugly sisters – whispering to the avarice in our soul, always eager to tickle the sweet spot of the contemporary cultural palate – are, one can hardly fail to notice, also signature features of Maclean’s artistic palette; evident in her obvious love of dressing up and in the multi-layered digital confections with which she drapes and decorates her work. Although these colourful computer-generated effects apply a fantastical candy-coated surface, Maclean lays it on equally thick with make-up, costume and prosthetics: older tricks of the theatrical trade that enable her to appear as multiple characters in a parade of show-stopper performances. These characters, in turn, run the gamut of current fashions, fixations and tastes: the pre-teen social media fanatic, and the silver-fox media entrepreneur; the starry-eyed child entertainer whose golden ticket to fame and fortune is also the meal ticket for the behind-the-scenes mentor, fairy godmother or industry svengali. Feed any of these creatures a line, and they know exactly how and when to act – and how to convey themselves in the best possible light. This frenzy of self-regard (and barely-concealed self-interest) is all frivolous sound and fury but its froth of sweet nothings has a dark and bitter aftertaste, as Maclean lambasts the commercialisation (and sexualisation) of childhood, and deftly skewers a corresponding turn towards infantilisation in adult behaviour. As we continue to feed the monster of contemporary consumerist desire, Maclean’s film is an indelible reminder of all the little monsters that are born in its wake.

FILM: Feed Me Rachel Maclean 18 February
3.30pm £4 (+ £1.50 booking fee)
Studio 74, Exeter Phoenix

Spacex presents artist Rachel Maclean’s film, commissioned by FVU and Hayward Touring for British Art Show 8. Supported by Arts Council England and Creative Scotland. Modern life feeds us the line that happiness comes when we follow our desires. If you have a dream, then chase it. But what if what made us happy only ever created an ever-bigger hole to fill? Inspired by fairytales, horror films and TV talent shows Feed Me offers a sharp critique of contemporary culture.

‘Feed Me, with its hideous cast of bestial men and half-human creatures got up in kids’ clothes and smiley badges, is an unforgettable satire on the commercialisation of childhood, with sinister sexual undertones – coruscatingly creepy and astute.’ THE GUARDIAN

‘Exhilarating, funny, and frequently frightening’ ARTSY

9 January 2017

 

Irish artist Sean Lynch in his County Limerick studio

Irish artist Sean Lynch in his County Limerick studio

Sean Lynch represented Ireland at 2015’s Venice Biennale with his installation Adventure: Capital. The piece, which combined video, sculpture and graphic prints to trace a journey around Ireland and Britain, is typical of Lynch’s multimedia practice. Much of his work concerns forgotten histories and tends to be the result of years of research. Adventure: Capital is currently on tour in Ireland. Lynch’s new exhibition, The Weight of the World, at Phoenix Exeter and the Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery, is informed by the museum’s artefacts, such as their recent acquisition of a hoard of Roman coins.

I get up at 7am. I’ll often have a thought or idea pop up as I’m trying to get to sleep, and the work I make often requires speaking to other people – you can’t always find answers just by googling things. So the first thing I do is plan who I need to call that day.

My studio is 20 paces from my front door. I live with my wife and baby daughter on the outskirts of Askeaton in Limerick, by the Shannon estuary. We live in what would have been the lighthouse keeper’s home and his office next door is now the studio. There’s room for storage, and a black and white darkroom. I share the studio with my wife, Michele Horrigan, who’s also an artist. We studied together in Frankfurt in the mid-2000s.

Adventure Capital Credit: Sean Lynch

Adventure Capital Credit: Sean Lynch

I imagine I’m tidy but I’m not sure Michele would agree. Seamus Heaney once said something about how you don’t want your studio to be too nice, because you’d never get anything done.

We have an open door policy. We run an artist residency in the town and artists come from all over the world. Often they’ll be using the studio, too. It’s a friendly place.

I used to listen to Punk tapes while I worked, and Fugazi and Mogwai, and a really good local band called The Poke. But but I got a bit sick of it. Now it’s a pretty quiet space.

Lunch gives me a chance to socialise with other local artists. It’s part of our rhythm. We talk about our work and help each other out. The other day, they were helping me shoot a video and we had to pop a bottle of champagne as part of it, so we were left with an open bottle at 11.30am. That disappeared over lunch.

I use my walls as workspace. When I’m working on pieces that involve slide projections, the walls are covered in photos to help me sequence them. But when I’m making sculptures – which usually happens on site – the walls are bare. The studio has to be flexible, so that it can used for anything.

People are always coming in and out of the studio. They’re not assistants, exactly: one friend helps with woodwork, another is a whiz on the computer and is great at video-editing. We have a communal way of working. I like to give over control: it’s not about being a genius, it’s about a meeting of minds and a meeting of different skills.

 The DeLorean In progress Credit: Sean Lynch

The DeLorean In progress Credit: Sean Lynch

I often revisit old pieces. They might need to be reformatted for an exhibition, or I might have learned a new piece of information through exhibiting them. In 2010, I made a piece about the DeLorean motor car factory being shut down, and whenever it’s exhibited people tell me they knew someone that worked there. It would be boring if an artwork knew exactly what it was. It’s much more exciting for it to change over time, so that its personality develops in the way ours do.

I work on multiple pieces at once. Sometimes I’ll be researching something for years, but sometimes I’ll make works in just a day or two.

I feed my inspiration by discovering untold stories. I’m interested in the role of history – especially forgotten history – in our lives. One of my projects is about two brothers from Oxford who carved monkeys onto the city’s museums. I wanted to encourage people to look up and see how they changed the cityscape.

When I get artist’s block, I get on with the practical stuff. Making work is a long term process, so it’s not necessarily about producing art every day. If I can’t get my ideas going, I can work on publications for my exhibitions, or some of the organisational tasks.

Installation view of the piece The Irish House Credit: Sean Lynch

Installation view of the piece The Irish House Credit: Sean Lynch

I‘ve also found it to be true that you don’t always have to start with a good idea: the bad ones can turn out to be much more interesting – and I’m pretty good at those.

I write notes on my hand. I’ve started using my mobile to take pictures of things I want to remember, too, but I like the idea that I can write a note on my hand and look at it later in the day – sometimes it doesn’t make sense at first, but then the memory will come.

I never really finish work. The studio door is always open, so if there’s some little thing I didn’t finish during the day I’ll pop back in at 11pm, after we’ve put my daughter to bed.

To relax, I watch Keith Lemon on TV. I like any kind of trash television. I play snooker, too, though badly.

I get about six hours of sleep. Although since we’ve had our baby, I’m ready for a power nap at any time of day.

21 June 2016

Opportunities for both institutions and artists to collaboratively reframe themselves happen rarely; structures and practices shift into patterns over time, manifesting into certain forms, truths, that are difficult to shift. Collaboration is a point of departure and discovery, offering challenges that if embraced impact on the way that ideas and processes can take form in future work.

img_5675__largeThroughout October and November 2015, Trevor Pitt undertook a residency at Spacex that explored collaboration, focusing on its use as a strategy for artists making ‘things’, and ‘making things happen’ and shifting the focus from discussion to active engagement. Pitt’s practice builds platforms, his previous work ‘Cannon Hill Art School’ manifested a project that offered 72 Birmingham residents the opportunity to study a subject that is for many increasingly out of reach.img_5751__large

These works are underpinned by the deep sense of fascination Pitt holds for the approaches and iconography developed in Black Mountain College by Josef and Anni Albers, and the transformational nature of study through experimental practice. Albers danced through Pitt’s residency, his electric engagement projected through a short video alongside an installation of platforms for collaboration and furniture developed from Albers’ designs by Pitt and made by Malcolm Robertson, Spacex’s Technical Manager. The gallery space was transformed through these acts into a place in which Pitt tested ideas through educational collaboration. School children came to curate exhibitions alongside PGCE students, FE Art and Design students discovered a DIY aesthetic in BYOB (Bring Your Own Beamer) then shared and tested the results through an event they held out of college hours.

img_5857__largeCentral to Pitt’s concerns at Spacex was the creation of Preston Street Union, in which Pitt invited fifteen artists local to Exeter to join him throughout his residency, to form an association through which they would actively collaborate. Preston Street Union was informed by a series of guest speakers, all artists who Pitt has previously collaborated with. Juneau Projects, Claire Thornton and Emily Warner each visited Spacex to introduce their work through presentations and direct activity. I fleetingly manifested the collaborative projects that focus my practice via Skype. This element of the residency was given its own visual identity by designer Keith Dodds, another of Pitt’s long- term collaborators.

img_6034__largeAt the core of Preston Street Union are ongoing direct questions for both the participants and Spacex that focus on the relationships they can build together and how these then can be sustained for future work. Within the spaces in which artists are brought together there are undeniable opportunities to collectively support diverse individual practices, through the fostering of critical engagement with the contexts and connections that form innovative work. Artists, spaces and projects are strengthened through critical engagement, gaining the confidence to see beyond the context of their immediate surroundings for a greater sense of connectivity. Associates’ schemes set up by Castlefield Gallery, Eastside Projects, G39, S1 Artspace and Spike Island continue to offer artists unique opportunities to expand and develop their creative (artistic, curatorial and written) networks through the offer of direct participation and exchange. Each associates’ scheme shares the dynamically ambitious local/international ecologies which they continue to forge, engage and inform through cross regional residences, callouts and projects.

img_6091__largePreston Street Union have been selected for mentoring by Visual Arts South West and continue discussions as to how they can evolve and work together as collaborators and peers. As these dialogues are undertaken there is an opportunity for reciprocity. The strength of Spacex has been its commitment to supporting risk in artists’ practices. This is a critical moment for artists both regionally and nationally to support Spacex as it engages with new aims to pioneer itself as a resilient organisational structure in the visual arts, and to work with projects that focus the institution beyond the gallery into embedded engagement with local populations. Spacex’s support has been galvanised through Pitt’s residency, which has focused how the institution can maintain a reputation for excellence at a national level, while increasing its participation and engagement with regional audiences. Situations born out of flux offer opportunities for imagination and re-creation. As projects shift they call in turn for us to respond, to work with them and see them anew.

Text by Cathy Wade
Published by This is Tomorrow Magazine

16 March 2016

WCon 1
Children, teachers and parents visited University of Exeter last Saturday to take a look at the exhibition documenting the project their school has been involved with for the past five years. The display is designed to encourage people to take a closer look and includes peep boxes and photo opportunities for Arctic landscape selfies.  Artist Trevor Pitt also dropped by to take a look, his residency at Spacex during autumn 2015 provided the themes of ‘Curation and Collaboration’ for the project’s most recent work.

The exhibition is at the Forum Mezzanine until 20 March.Wecon 3We con 5

7 March 2016

I was lucky enough to be one of the artists from across Exeter who ventured out of their studios and gravitated to Spacex at the invitation of Trevor Pitt, the artist in residence. Without realising it in our weekly hub, hosted by Spacex, we started to form an artists’ collective called Preston Street Union.

As a full-time self-employed artist who did not go through the art school system, I have sought out alternative training and inspiration throughout my career. Through this rather eclectic pathway, I have, again and again, found that artist or practitioner-led learning can be top notch.

This is exactly the timbre of Trevor Pitt’s approach with the formation of PSU as part of his residency at Spacex, he offered a subtle and powerful provocation to artists across the region to engage with a process of meeting together, which led us through experimentation and artistic enquiry through collaboration.

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Using the work of the Bauhaus visionary Josef Albers and the unique philosophies of the Black Mountain College, ‘learning by doing’, ‘practice before theory’ and the dissolution of the hierarchy elevating fine arts above other forms, Trevor skilfully managed to get an eclectic ensemble of artists from many disciplines to collaborate with one another from the moment we arrived. The brilliant thing about this project was rather than encourage people to sit around talking about their own work (which can be very interesting but not very progressive), we were thrown into working collaboratively immediately, with mini-crits, mini-projects and exercises. The sessions were, for the most part, led by other artists bought in from further afield – including Clare Thornton, Cathy Wade and Emily Warner. Each session was surprising and eclectic, and most of all, each session was imbued with a hard to define energy.

One week the wonderful Juneau Project came to share an app that enables the activation of space, another week artist Clare Thornton came and enthused and inspired with her deeply collaborative practice, treating us to glimpses of her dynamic work.

The great pleasure of playing with materials and ideas with no specific outcome in mind was a deeply creative way to spend Tuesday nights. It was at times very moving to see what people managed to conjure out of so little. The fabulous thing was that often the tasks, always to be carried out collaboratively, had to be ready to show after just 30 minutes. This pressure was in fact what turned out to be the biggest freedom, as to work in this way is playful, informal and direct. I realised after the formal residency ended, that what was brilliant about Pitt’s curation of this residency was he laid down a fertile ground for us to learn about each others work through making new work – a true gift.

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Preston Street Union is now a thing – and like all good processes – the outcome is not yet known as to where we will go with it. Note to other artists: If Trevor Pitt comes to your neck of the woods get on the list. He’s a gift to the creative lifeblood of the towns and cities he visits, and he has a lot of great friends he brings along too.

Amy Shelton, Artist and Artistic Director of Honeyscribe

11 January 2016

In October, artist and independent curator Trevor Pitt put out a call inviting artists from in and around Exeter to join Preston Street Union, part of Trevor’s recent residency at Spacex.

The call-out offered 12 spaces but arriving at the first Tuesday evening workshop I found we numbered almost double that – and it felt like an affirming welcome to all of us, that so many had been accommodated.

In his introduction, Trevor spoke about his Cannon Hill Art School Project at mac, Birmingham and the possibilities that an experimental approach can bring to learning and making art.

Trevor said of his work that, “the idea of setting up PSU was very much influenced by my interest in the work of artist and educator Josef Albers. During the programme the group were encouraged at all times to embrace one of Albers’ key principles for developing as an artist – “look with open eyes””

Psu-kate1

The four evening sessions lasted only 2 hours, but the pace of each was quick and exhilarating. We were encouraged to develop a relationship of exchange with the project through the direction of bringing along something to each meeting (images of our own work; an  “object, material or item that… encapsulates… current thinking or ideas”) and, for me, this had the affect deepening my sense of being an active participant.

Sessions were launched quickly, opening with a presentation from a guest artist/group (Cathy Wade, Juneau Projects and Clare Thornton) and we then followed Trevor’s ideology of learning through doing, splitting into small groups and having a maximum of 20 minutes to create a collaborative response which was then shared to the whole group.

In the final session, a day-long event facilitated by artist Emily Warner, PSU took over the Spacex building and presented the results of our whole learning through collaborative experience.

psu-kate2

Trevor brought a lightness of touch to the PSU project enabling trust to develop from our easy and quick connections as we formed, shifted and re-formed our small groups each session. In our responses, had no time to over-think, but just enough time to act – we needed to be spontaneous and confident and to go with our ideas.

For me, the process has been hugely beneficial. I hit absolute exhilaration, a massive buzz by the end of the final session and it came from the realisation of the ease with which the PSU Associates embarked on our final creative actions.

The principle of peer learning is vital to artistic practice at any stage – and it was a privilege to explore the potential of pushing the boundaries of our current ways of working through collaboration. We are now post project and working independently to develop PSU as a group of associates who have come together because of a shared interest in collaborating with other artists and we are strongly committed to keeping Preston Street Union going.

Kate Paxman, Artist and Producer at Smooth Space

 

 

8 January 2016

sarahx2

The Typing Pool Party was unlike any pool party I have been to before. Typewriters in all colours festooned the tables of the Cavern, awaiting the creative stylings of Exeter’s best and brightest. This brought out different things in everyone – from diary-style writings about one’s life, to random thoughts, to chaotic Dadaist collections of words or phrases. In my case, naturally, this involved complaining about my job. (When you work in Pensions, a lot of your time gets taken up with complaining about your job).

I was talking to Maddy and Paul about zines on the first Wonderful Grotto, and they suggested that I come back the next week and make one myself. This is something I had been meaning to do for a long time. I went through various ideas during the week, but nothing seemed quite right. However, when I came back Maddy suggested I make portraits of the people in the Cavern that afternoon. This was perfect in its simplicity – and I’d brought my felt-tips so I was already prepared. I have often wanted to do more portraits of people, but I’ve rarely had the excuse.

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Other people of all ages were making their own zines – from collaging images to adding captions to photos of cats. Maddy and Paul provided a wealth of images collected over the years from newspapers and magazines, alongside other craft materials for us to use. It was nice to be able to make these things without any particular pressure and have them on the table at the end of the project.

7 December 2015

IMG_0452We do not always create ‘works of art,’ but rather experiments; it is not our intention to fill museums: we are gathering experience. 

– Josef Albers

This initial period of Trevor’s residency has focussed on designing the space and activities that will facilitate collaborations and test ideas. The work of the pioneering artist and educator Josef Albers is a key reference point for the residency. Pitt is reworking some of Albers classic furniture designs to create a set of ‘flat pack’ items that creates the potential for a mobile resource for artists and DIY art students alike.

IMG_8182Pitt is also exploring ways in which he can continue to develop some of the ideas from his previous project Cannon Hill Art School, Preston Street Union will help to extend this legacy providing a platform for artists based in and around Exeter to come together to learn about and make art. Find out more about PSU here.

 

 

5 October 2015