Anna, Emily, Johnny & Susan, Wakefield, 13 June 2012

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Useful Art

I have been thinking a lot about the research we are all doing, and keep shifting my perspective on what it is I want to find out.
My ideas were around sustainability and survival - something urgent about the 'point' of art projects keeps swimming about in my periphery. What do art projects do or what are they for? I am interested in looking at projects which have been called 'socially-engaged' and what that might mean.
A recent visit to Grizedale Arts - at Lawson Park got me thinking...
Grizedale Arts have been around since the 70s - but for much of that time have been building up a programme of sculptural works in the forest.
From what I understand this continued until Adam Sutherland took over as Director - bringing in a new direction. The sculpture programme in the forest still exists (and featured recently on Country File!) and has a curator, but Grizedale Arts has taken a new direction. I asked Alistair Hudson if he could describe the difference in approach that they take now, and he said something along the lines of ' we want to work on projects that are useful to society.'
I find this idea fascinating - and hope to explore it through the research we do for SAJE. What is art that useful to society - what does it look like - how do the participants feel about it? Some of the projects that Grizedale now do are not recognised by the people involved as being art.While in Coniston, I visited their Honest Shop, a shop with no shop keeper, where local people can sell their wares (making a glut of vegetables into profit, or an enjoyment of knitting teddy bears into a bit of extra christmas money.) I was speaking to one of the ladies running a stall in the Coniston institute (one of Grizedale's projects.) I asked her if this was an art project, and she wasn't sure, but she thought it was a very good thing for Coniston anyway.
So, in selecting which projects to look into for my research: I think I am moving towards projects which might be described as 'Useful To Society' or Socially Engaged. I would like to look at NVA's Sow and Grow Everywhere project, and The Clipperton Project (currently in Glasgow) as well as perhaps revisiting Grizedale, and speaking to the youthclub, or some of the regular contributors to their Honest Shop.
I would still like to explore the idea of walking as a participatory tool, or as a tool for aiding good conversation - so perhaps the request could be for the people I interview to take me on a tour of the area where the project takes place - demonstrating the 'usefulness' in geographic locations.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Anna, good to hear from you. Sounds like your ideas are evolving clearly and the walk sounds a good way to link the various discussions. I also keep shifting perspective,.,