I feel like I’m getting a little bit behind with this, which was a worry from when I started – if you don’t write a blog post regularly, then there’s not much point in the blog.
Once again I’m writing this on a train heading towards Birmingham from Bristol, so doubtless I’ll see the tops of the cedars at Croome quite soon. Last week I was on my way to an NT Midlands Contemporary Art Futures Group meeting in Nottingham. It was held at Primary Studios in Nottingham, and it gave us an opportunity to meet some of the artists there and talk about their work. The artists we met were Yelena Popova, Rebecca Beinart, Chris Lewis-Jones and the curator Tom Godfrey. Rebecca and Chris both do interesting and playful work out of doors, and Tom works with a lot of new artists.
Some of my own thinking about ways of working has become clearer, largely in discussion with Ashleigh, Rachel and Richard. We have decided to try implementing a series of creative residencies at Croome, with focus on specific projects. These people fit very much into the ‘New Talent’ category, which is both a legacy of the 6th Earl, and a key element of Croome Redefined. It is a very broad category, however, and we’ve been trying to refine the idea of what it might look like at Croome in the 21st Century.
The Creative Residencies are aimed at creative practitioners from across all creative disciplines. They could be digital curators, games designers, shoe-makers, textile artists, photographers or poets, to name but a few. They will invariably have left university or art college in the last few years and worked on some smaller scale projects, showing a lot of promise in their chosen field. They will be with us for between 6 months and a year, and we will provide them with an appropriate mentor who will bring experience, expertise and a network of contacts. They will work with recent graduates, and be involved in running workshops for visitors. We currently expect all our projects to work in this way.
Our first such residencies has gone to Clare Harris who is a digital curator/producer and nascent games designer. She will be working with us on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, plus a bit extra here and there, over the coming year. Her immediate focus will be on the Soul to Sole project in the Court, and then games in the Park over the summer/autumn 2014. Her two mentors are Molly Price of Jason Bruges Studio in London and Diffus Design in
Copenhagen and Rosie Poebright of Splash and Ripple in Bristol.
What lies behind this is the idea of giving opportunities to emerging creatives in an attempt to create 'a centre of development for new talent in craftsmanship, creativity and design.' Quite a bold thing for the Trust and it will take some doing. But if it's at least partially successful, it has a chance of being sustainable through increased income from more visitors, and ongoing partnerships between the Trust and organisations such as The Arts Council and GRAIN.