100 Masters, a landmark campaign from Creative Black Country, the organisation behind the much celebrated Desi Pubs project, is looking to identify and profile the best contemporary craftspeople, makers and thinkers from the Black Country area. Anneka French caught up with Creative Producer, Liam Smyth, to find out more.

Working with public nominations from across the Black Country, the 100 Masters project will culminate in an expo at Starworks in Wolverhampton in November this year. It includes presentations from the individuals selected, as well as the results of a series of artist commissions.

Nominations so far include Sandwell-born artist Gillian Wearing, Walsall’s Paralympic swimming champion Ellie Simmonds OBE, Wolverhampton journalist and author Sathnam Sanghera and David Pearce, the Walsall schoolboy who designed the new £1 coin emblem. The full list of nominations will be reviewed by representatives from the community, with the selected masters revealed in July.

A number of artists have also been commissioned to make work in response to the project’s nominated masters and the context of the project more widely. Artists include photographer Laura Dicken, performer and video artist Amelia Beavis-Harrison, digital hackerspace Urban Hax and Juneau Projects, who bring a wealth of experience working with multi-disciplinary projects to 100 Master. As lead artists, Juneau Projects, will use augmented reality animations to bring the project to life. A special collaboration with the Express and Star newspaper, for example,  is providing an interactive platform that will raise the profile of the project, particularly with audiences who are less familiar with creative and visual arts projects.

100 Masters aims to be a celebration of the excellence of creative work already happening within the Black Country and hopes to be a driver for the future development and retention of creative talent.

Liam Smyth, Creative Producer at Creative Black Country, said:

“We are looking to increase aspirations in the local area through 100 Masters. We would like to grow the number of master makers and thinkers within the Black Country. It’s an industrial area of course and there is a lot of attention paid to its design and manufacturing heritage but there is less focus upon current creative practice. We want to acknowledge this and unearth the secrets of creativity and making that are happening today, to show people that the Black Country is an ideal place to live and create amazing work.”

Applications to nominate a ‘master’ from the Black Country are open until 30 June: http://www.100masters.co.uk/nominate-a-master/