France-Lise McGurn, Rabbit, 2017, installation view at Recent Activity

In July, I undertook a trip to Glasgow to meet young artists and connect with artist-run spaces. I currently have two strands to my practice, making work and organising exhibitions for others through Recent Activity, a curatorial project I run with Andrew Lacon. Earlier this year, we opened a project space, providing a fixed location to our previously itinerant activity. Visiting Glasgow, I hoped to meet artists with a similar balance and range to their practices.

France-Lise McGurn, Rabbit, 2017, installation view at Recent Activity

Michael White, an artist who also runs Gallery Celine was extremely insightful. Unfunded and independent, the gallery operates from a living room in shared flat. The energy and ambition of Gallery Celine is exhilarating and such an urgent attitude to staging exhibitions would hugely benefit the artistic Birmingham.

David Dale Gallery revealed a different model – a larger gallery space with connecting studios. It was useful to see how a space might develop. An outdoor courtyard had been activated as a site for showing work and making pizzas in a clay oven. This resourcefulness and fluidity was interesting to see and particularly relevant to my work with Recent Activity.

Matthew and Jessica from The Good Press were also very interesting to meet. Formed in 2011, The Good Press provides a platform for the production and sale of independent publications, as well as a site for exhibitions and projects. Their range of activities and open approach to collaboration is compelling and has inspired some new conversations about the possible direction of Recent Activity.

I visited France-Lise McGurn in her studio prior to her exhibition at Recent Activity. It was great to discuss her developing work and talk more broadly about the artistic landscape in Glasgow. Having returned to Glasgow after time in London and Berlin, it was useful to talk about her relationship with the city and the changing roles of galleries and artist-run spaces.

Steven Claydon’s exhibition at The Common Guild was a highlight of the trip; the collision of materials, imagery and forms was really exciting to see first hand. Claydon’s broad range of cultural references and the overall composition of his exhibition made a huge impact on me.

Andrew Gillespie
www.awgillespie.com

Andrew Gillespie reports from his research trip to Glasgow last summer, made possible via an Engine Micro Bursary.

Kira Freije, The Dark Away, 2017 at Recent Activity. Photo: Stuart Whipps.

Recent Activity is a curatorial collaborative project by Birmingham-based artists Andrew Gillespie and Andrew Lacon. They have recently opened a space on Floodgate Street in Digbeth. We found out what they have planned for the space.

You have worked on projects nomadically for some time. What prompted the move to open the Recent Activity project space?

We have operated an itinerant programme since 2015, activating spaces and audiences across Birmingham and beyond. Although exciting, we wanted a new challenge and to form a different dialogue with artists and the city. Our other projects still continue – we recently presented an iteration of Nomadic Vitrine with Alex Frost at The Royal Standard in Liverpool.

What is the ethos behind the space?

Our attitude to the space is very much the same as to our previous projects. We hope to bring new artists to Birmingham and provide for the display and discussion of context for contemporary. We have always tried to work with a sense of urgency and tried to utilise the inertia of each project to propel the next one.

Why now?

We had been working in a particular way, with certain parameters for over a year. We wanted some continuity, a fixed location with a new set of possibilities.

What do you hope the space will bring to the art ecology of the city?

We hope to contribute to the existing landscape, generating more activity and dialogues. We have both benefited hugely from Grand Union and Eastside Projects.

How does your curatorial work with Recent Activity feed into your individual artistic practices?

Recent Activity forms one strand of our practices. Each exhibition or project feels like new collaboration, exposing us to different artist’s practices and undoubtedly informing our own approaches.

What are your plans for the future of the project space?

Exhibitions and events will run throughout the year. In August, we are working with James Parkinson on another Nomadic Vitrine presentation, whilst France-Lise McGurn is making a new exhibition in the project space.

 

 

Recent Activity is a curatorial collaborative project by Birmingham-based artists Andrew Gillespie and Andrew Lacon. They have recently opened a space on Floodgate Street in Digbeth. We found out what they have planned for the space.