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It was a very emotional  preview of Matthew Miller’s installation Shadow Theatre as part of the group show Equilibre des Forces at the Centre d’Arts plastiques et visuels in Lille on 18 March. Matthew was an artist and one of the founders and Co-Directors at Fabrica who died very suddenly last June. His friends and colleagues are still coming to terms with their loss so this exhibition was poignant moment, I’m grateful to La Malterie and Claire Soper, Matthew’s partner, for making this happen, to see his work again.

The other artists included in the exhibition are Stéphane Cauchy  who exhibited at Fabrica last July/August with his exhibition Cascade and Edith Dekyndt an artist proposed by Netwerk. This exhibition is part of our LCP project.

model of building with projections

Shadow Theatre

art centre and market stalls

lots of bikes parked outside station

Bikes at Ghent station

Fabrica and our project partner Netwerk have decided to apply for funding from the EU funding programme Culture. This would enable us to work with new contemporary visual art organisations from across the whole of Europe. Currently through the 2 Seas Interreg programme we are limited to working with the coastal regions of Northern France, Flanders and a part of the coastal region of the Netherlands.

We attended the Culture in Motion Conference in Brussels 15 & 16  Feb to learn more about the programme and research potential new partners. After some delay on Eurostar we arrived in Brussels where they were no buses or underground because of lightning strikes. Unfortunately we’d missed lunch but arrived just as the conference started.

The first day was the most interesting with presentation of past projects, my favourites were these:

H.O.M.E Streetopia (House for Open Mobility Exchange) have set up a network with the aim of using existing tools and facilities to make it easier and cheaper for artists to circulate around Europe to develop projects in public spaces. They want to avoid the administration, accommodation and organisational  costs that can be very prohibitive for artists’ collaborations.

readme.cc a virtual meeting place for communication about books.

emare.eu the European Media Art Network brings together European media labs including FACT in Liverpool and VIVID in Birmingham.

amitie.it is a network of museum educators/cultural facilitators developing programmes and disseminating training for museums involved in adult education.

After meeting as many contacts as possible the next day we got together with Netwerk to research and draw up a short list of potential partners to contact. The application deadline is 1 Oct 2011 and we need one or two partners. The next step is to go and visit them.

4 people sitting around table with laptops

Researching organisations in Europe with Netwerk

Sculpture on ceiling of gallery

John Grade's preview at L'H du Siège

No snow, strikes or delays this time. We got to the preview of La Chasse (The Hunt) at L’H du Siège on 7 January. John exhibited The Elephant Bed at Fabrica in July 2009 so we were eager to see him again, he’s a lovely person and I think one of  the most interesting artists I’ve met in the 10 years I’ve been at Fabrica.

He spent 3 months in residence, most of the time in the forest at Parc Naturel Régionale Scarpe-Escaut where he explored the floating peat forests and the slag heaps left over from  coal mining  and made a 3 dimensional floor plan of the gallery in the forest. He also took part in a hunt, as a beater, which was the basis of the video he exhibited, his first video.  He brought all this back to the gallery to produce another superb exhibition. Here is a link to the video exhibited in La Chasse and go to John’s website for more info on his work. It’s on until 19 February if you want to go.

CEMEA & Leonardo

I met up with Camel Guecioueur, head of Professional Training and International Activity at CEMEA Nord Pas de Calais. Camel is applying for EU Leonardo funding for the VET programme, Vocational Education and Training, so if it’s successful Fabrica and Dock Europe in Hamburg will host some of CEMEA’s trainee youth workers for 3 months next September. It’s an exciting opportunity for them, they will be integrated into our volunteer programme and help develop and deliver activities for the public during our autumn exhibition. What’s very important is they’ll be able to improve their English, an essential skill for any European looking for work. The programme provides all their travel and accommodation costs with a tiny subsistence allowance, not bad,  hopefully they’ll have some fun in Brighton.

We find out in March if we’re successful then I’ll go over in June and be part of the selection panel, I want to make sure we get passionate candidates that will fit in with the volunteer team.

CEMEA are leaving their current premises on 118 blvd de la Liberté this month for bigger and better premises a few streets away. It’s going to feel strange after all the projects we’ve taken part in over the past 9 years, feels like the marking of a new era with CEMEA.

Stack of empty boxes in corridor

CEMEA packing up

4 people sitting table 1 wearing blue paper beard

CEMEA trainees in workshop responding to a performance seen the night before

January started with very sad news. Our LCP colleague and friend Patrick Merckaert, passed away on 12 January. He was the Artistic Director of Boem in Zwalm, Belgium and an artist. Since 1997 he’s invited artists from across Europe and beyond to discover and respond to the landscape  of the Flemish Ardennes by taking part in the biennial  Kunst&Zwalm.

It’s not just a sculpture trail, it’s more like a series of artworks that temporarily allows you to enter into the life of an area. Patrick achieved this by succeeding in involving a large number of the local community from farmers to the local Count. He had vision, integrity and a great sense of humour,  he will be very missed.

Artistic Visions Project

Last Thursday I attended the second meeting organised by the Conseil Générale du Pas-de-Calais who are looking for partners to develop for an application to the Interreg IVa 2 Seas programme in July 2011. There are several  partners around the table at the moment from France, the UK and perhaps West Flanders exploring the common cultural heritage of these regions. I’m particularly excited by the potential of working with Barbara Forest, the Director of the Musée des beaux arts, Calais whose exhibitions are always a fascinating mix of contemporary work presented alongside the permanent collection in a fabulous purpose built museum of the 60s. Lots of work ahead to get an application together, thankfully we’re not lead partner.

Calais, although not very attractive, it has some great restaurants. The coast line, known as the Côte d’Opale, is amazing, I recommend it for a short break or a perfect stop off if you’re travelling through France.

I managed to get back home before all the snow, Eurotunnel is so convenient and efficient, well so far it has been. Next visit to Lille is Jan 6 so who knows if Eurostar will be running.

Cars loading in to Eurotunnel

Boarding Eurotunnel

 

 

 

 

 

 

Car in eurotunnel train

In a car, in a train, in a tunnel, under the sea!

Student Galleries Project

framed pictures in school corridor

Me, Myself and I exhibition, Patcham High School, Dec 2010

At Fabrica we find it frustrating that more schools aren’t able to or don’t want to bring groups of primary or secondary students to the gallery. We have particularly good contact with the heads of art Vikki Drew at Patcham High School  and Giuseppe Iozzi at Longhill High School in Brighton and Hove so we’ve been exploring new ways for us to work together.

This started with a research visit to our partner L’H du Siège in Valenciennes,  northern France in November 2009 to look at how they worked with different schools and colleges. At Patcham they’ve just launched their own students’ gallery with work selected by a group of students from across all year groups called The Art Council. The group visited our Martin Parr exhibition House of Vernacular in November and worked with artist-facilitator Jane Fordham to explore selecting and curating work. This group is continuing to work with Jane throughout the spring incorporating workshops linked to our next exhibition The Forty Part Motet by Janet Cardiff.  The students are fortunate to have Emer Gillespie, Visual Art Developer to support and encourage them with their own dedicated art space Room A3 where they can meet and make work at lunchtimes and after school.

2 school children sticking photos to wall

Workshop at Fabrica with Longhill students, Dec 2010

Artist facilitator David Parfitt has been working with Longhill as part of a Creative Partnerships project installing over 200 frames in the corridors of the school. We’ve now started looking at how Giuseppe’s students can select work for these frames and to develop the idea of a gallery space run by and for the students. David brought two groups along to House of Vernacular and he’ll continue using the exhibitions at Fabrica as a source during 2011.

Both artists will be starting blogs to document the process and we’re planning to hold an event during The Forty Part Motet exhibition in April-May to share our experience with other schools, artists and projects interested in curating.