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Art and soil: Part 3 - The Open College of the Arts
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Art and soil: Part 3

Joy Forever: with Roving Microscope and Grizedale Arts

…Continued. In the previous two posts Dan outlined Soil conversations at Low Parkamoor farm, and opportunities to get involved with Grizedale. In this last post from Grizedale Arts anniversary weekend, he reports on an exhibition, talk and meal at the Coniston Institute.

The themes of this relate to current Arts & Environment learning resources, visits and e-meets developed by Dan and Melissa for OCA. 

I enjoyed going to Grizedale’s anniversary event, A Very Special Saturday at the Coniston Institute’. I viewed the exhibition ‘1001 Village Nights’ in the village hall, attended a talk by Alistair Hudson (ex Grizedale deputy director) and later returned to the village hall — now transformed — for a lovely meal with performances, music and a party.

It was interesting to learn more about wider networks of thinking and influence informing Grizedale’s work and to meet other people associated with Grizedale Juneau Projects, Marcus Coates, Kathrin Bohm and Somewhere (Karen Guthrie and Nina Pope).

The exhibition, ‘1001 Village Nights’ was ‘a retrospective exhibition chronicling Grizedale Arts seven-year relationship with the village of Coniston.’ It pulled together artefacts, produce, art and craft objects from youth groups, local and international practitioners in a way that (typically for Grizedale) somehow seemed to combine care, humour and irreverence. The show cleverly used moveable panel units and stands designed by Tom Philipson, so it can be easily transported and reassembled.

Finally, by Fairland Collective, Tom Philipson, and the Village Table, which involved eating from hand-thrown pots, bone shaped crostini and lovely vegetarian food.

I attended a fascinating talk by Alistair Hudson – ex deputy director at Grizedale who is now Director at Manchester Arts Gallery — entitled, ‘How Conisiton Changed My Life’. Alistair traced his influences in curating right back to John Ruskin and his past involvement at the Coniston Institute and other mechanics institutes around the country, many of which later became art galleries and museums.  Alistair told how, in July 1857 John Ruskin delivered A Joy Forever, two lectures in Manchester mechanics institute over two evenings. These lectures, sub-titled ‘The Discovery and Application of Art’ and ‘The Accumulation and Distribution of Art’ continue to influence Alistair and international network of ideas about art and use. Alistair recently curated an exhibition inspired by these ideas called, ‘How to use art to change the world and its price in the market’ at Whitworth Manchester. He also discussed, ‘The Association of Useful Art / Arte Util.’ that aims to be a platform for a wider network of activity exploring art and use. 

I found it interesting that Alistair related Grizedale’s approach to art and everyday life to ideas of curating as, ‘making things with care – be it food, craft, art, writing, social projects, enterprises…’ For further reading on ideas of curating as ‘taking care’ (the Latin root of curating is “curare,” meaning just this) see Hans Ulrich Obrist, Ways of Curating. London, Penguin, 2015.

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Posted by author: Dan Robinson

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