We catch up with Amelia Beavis-Harrison, newly appointed ESP & Public Programmer at Eastside Projects. Yorkshire-born Amelia has until recently been based in Oslo, Norway, and has a busy independent practice as both artist and curator dealing with socio-political subjects.
Can you tell us more about your work as an artist and curator? What projects are you currently working on?
I see my curatorial work as an extension of my artistic practice, often sharing related interests and ideas between the two as a mutually influencing way of working. My artistic practice is largely performance-based focusing on using language as a way to question socio-political situations, and the organisations I have been a part of and established have often had this same level of questioning. Kunst Vardo, for example is a nomadic platform commissioning artists to very directly respond to themes relevant to the geographical situation the project takes place in.
At Eastside Projects I’m currently working on a programme that runs parallel to Policy Show, which opens in September. The programme is called Reaction School and is a series of micro-master classes with artists and thinkers from across the UK, focusing on how to visualise policies/politics and get active. It brings together some of my own interests in activism and policy change whilst being hands on.
I’m also currently in the middle of preparing two of my own exhibitions in September. The first is a solo-show at Tenthaus in Oslo exploring bias in the media, and the second is a group show at The Museum of Non-Conformist Art in St Petersburg, Russia.
What drew you to the role of ESP and Public Programmer at Eastside Projects?
Eastside Projects is an example of how an artist-led organisation can operate on the same level as a curated institution, and it was important for me to join an organisation that both supported and encouraged those values. I have predominantly worked with site-specific programmes that focus on an event based structure and the role seemed to fit very seamlessly with my background and interests. I am very invested in the self-empowerment of individuals, and the ethos of ESP being member-driven and running in parallel to Eastside Projects, opposed to under, is something I want to champion.
What are you looking forward to within the role?
I have an ambition to meet all the members of ESP, and to get the voices of the ESP community heard. It’s a big task but by no means impossible. We are also in the process of establishing a development platform for women to take them to the next level within their practice. Female artists and practitioners are globally underrepresented, and although this is starting to be addressed and considered more widely within programming and collections management, we wanted to make a firm commitment to the development of female practices. I am looking forward to finding out how we shape the programme and what particular needs female practitioners have that are currently not addressed in established development programmes. This could be anything from childcare demands to making the female voice heard.
What have been your experiences of being based in the West Midlands so far?
I have only just moved to the West Midlands after re-locating from Oslo. It took me a little while to adjust back to UK living but it becomes familiar very quickly. Before Oslo I was based in Nottingham and came to Birmingham for exhibitions and events. Luckily now the train ride is a bit quicker.
One of my very first experiences of Birmingham was attending a Re:Flux concert curated by aas and Ensemble Interakt at St Paul’s Church in 2008. I seem to remember there being a lot of repetitive noise and the use of a piano. Birmingham’s changed a lot since then, and is set to change again as Digbeth goes through a period of flux and gentrification with HS2. I’m looking forward to seeing what reactions and responses come with the change.