Job Centre Junior, Amelia Beavis-Harrison. Photograph by Greg Millner

In autumn 2017 we offered artists and curators living in the West Midlands the opportunity to apply to receive a studio visit from an arts professional. Nine artists from across the region have been selected and will have the opportunity to discuss work and to seek feedback and practical advice on their practice.

Job Centre Junior, Amelia Beavis-Harrison. Photograph by Greg Millner

Artists Amelia Beavis-Harrison, Anna Katarzyna Domejko, Ian Giles, Andrew Gillespie, Kate Green, Kurt Hickson, James Lomax, Mark Murphy and Corinne Perry based have been selected from Warwickshire, Shropshire, Worcestershire and Birmingham. These nine ambitious artists were selected from a pool of strong applications thought sought to develop new connections and new conversations about their practice.

These artists will be visited in the coming months by arts professionals working both inside the region, nationally and internationally: Irene Aristizábal, Nottingham Contemporary; Lana Churchill, Bosse & Baum; Anne de Charmant, Meadow Arts; Seán Elder, Grand Union; Ryan Hughes, Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art / Office for Art, Design and Technology; Milika Muritu, Cell Project Space.

Applications were shortlisted by a panel including Deborah Robinson, Head of Exhibitions, The New Art Gallery Walsall, Zoe Lippett, Exhibitions and Artists’ Projects Curator, The New Art Gallery Walsall and Anneka French, Project Coordinator, New Art West Midlands.

The successful artists are announced for the most recent phase of our Engine studio visits.

Job Centre Junior by Amelia Beavis-Harrison. Photograph by Greg Millner

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.

 

Job Centre Junior by Amelia Beavis-Harrison. Photograph by Greg Millner

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.

A Mans House is His Castle by Sarah Maple, curated by Amelia Beavis-Harrison. Image credit Eirik Slyngstad

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.

1000 Bottles of Water by Martinka Bobrikova & Oscar de Carmen, curated by Amelia Beavis-Harrison. Image credit Ayatgali Tuleubek

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.

 

 

 

We catch up with Amelia Beavis-Harrison, newly appointed ESP & Public Programmer at Eastside Projects.

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/

 

100 Masters, a landmark campaign from Creative Black Country, is looking to profile the best contemporary craftspeople, makers and thinkers from the Black Country. We speak to Creative Producer, Liam Smyth.