Artist-Led in St Helens

Creative Activity in Empty Shops, 10 January – 31 March 2022

In 2022 St Helens Council awarded a tender for me to deliver Creative Activity in Empty Shops as part of the Welcome Back Fund, funded by the European Development Fund. The project was promoted under the title ‘artist-led in St Helens’ with Claire project managing the delivery. A team of freelance artists supported Claire in the delivery; as installation and invigilation assistants, social media support and project management support. Partner organisations including Wonder Arts, Short Supply and Heart of Glass supported delivery of the programme. Here is a summary of what happened.

Print 20:20 exhibition by Platform Print, Buzzhub and Hot Bed Press in the window of Salsa for an 8 week period
Three Artists Together events, providing space for more artists local to St Helens to come together in a space, for the first time in 2 years, to make new work in the town centre.
Aliens, Zombies and Monsters & Alien Agency Exhibitions open in 2 empty shop spaces on Church Square for 8 days during February half term, welcoming over 1000 visitors through the doors in that time. Delivered in partnership with St Helens based Wonder Arts and working with local independent businesses St Helens Bookstop and Geek Retreat to build interest in St Helens’ town centre offerings. Featuring a day of zombie-inspired dance performances by MD Creatives.
SLAP DASH: 1-day artist residencies on 3 March, 1-day symposium on 5 March and 6-day exhibition in an empty shop in St Mary’s Arcade to research ways of creating a culturally centred town centre. Working with North-West based organisation Short Supply to build a regional audience to visit and work in St Helens and supporting local independent businesses such as Phoenix Plant Based Eatery, Rennies and St Helens College Print Room in the production of the events.
Our Susan’s an artist… and Traces of the Town.
A 1 day event where visiting members of the public could share the creativity that they treasure that doesn’t usually get seen in a public space and where they could explore what St Helens town centre means to them through drawing – leading to a new interactive artwork and the exhibition of 10 illustrated photographs by Grace Collins in the windows of 3 more empty shops in St Mary’s Arcade, which will be in place for a minimum of 3 months March – June 2022.
The Many Uses of a Blanket and A Cosy Jumper exhibitions (both projects originally commissioned by Heart of Glass) across 2 empty shop spaces for 7 days, creating comforting spaces where people could reflect on connection and creativity within our community and where two St Helens artists were commissioned to create additional new works.

And here’s the key facts and figures:

  • 63% of the total £30,000* budget was spent directly in St Helens supporting local retailers (9%) and the St Helens Arts economy (54%), predominantly to individual artists living, working and studying here who will go on to spend their income in the local retail economy.
  • A total of 1738 people came through our doors on the 22 days we were open
  • From the postcodes we’ve collected, 73% of visitors were from St Helens, with 13% from Liverpool City Region and 13% nationally.

*numbers are rounded

Who did we work with?

  • 53 individual artists were involved either in the creation of works or as support staff for the events
  • Local independent businesses including Phoenix Plant Based Eatery, Bookstop St Helens, Geek Retreat, Rennies, Vinyline, Retro Chimps, 1 hour stitch, Victoria Flowers.
  • Local and regional arts partners including Wonder Arts, Heart of Glass, St Helens Arts Service, St Helens Libraries, Short Supply, Buzzhub, MD Creatives, Hot Bed Press.

“The major benefits …was being able to see a variety of ages, genders, backgrounds interacting with artwork in the heart of the town centre. The reactions were…of surprise and intrigue and to see the joy that art work can bring to audiences that aren’t not expecting to see it on a routine outing was wonderful.”

“The Benefits for our members have been extraordinary. We have been able to showcase the work of our talented members in various locations around the Town. It has enabled their local community to recognise and appreciate their talents. We have had the privilege of working with some amazing Artists… Our aspiration is inclusion. Our members (as) equals within their society. Opportunities to be admired and respected. Working with these artists allowed this to happen…we saw the Town Centre come to life with creative spaces ” – Buzzhub St Helens CDP

“It was wonderful to be welcomed into a town and space I would likely otherwise never have worked in before. I learned about the energy you find in small towns, breaking down that assumption that creativity isn’t worth bringing to a small town because nobody is interested in it. The project proved resoundingly that isn’t true, and furthermore proved how a little care, attention and effort can bring life and energy to even the smallest places.”

Check out @artistledsthelens on Instagram and Facebook for posts made during the project.

Artist-led in St Helens Creative Activity in empty shops was receiving up to £24,500 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund, specifically the Welcome Back Fund, as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding.

When paths cross/Wenn sich wege kreuzen

A short residency in Stuttgart in April 2018, invited by Yellow Door Artists has resulted in an exhibition opening this weekend at the Rathaus in Stuttgart to celebrate the 70th anniversary of St Helens and Stuttgart’s town twinning.  I’ll be showing two pairs of photographs from the performances of What are you waiting for? that took place outside Bibliothek in Stuttgart in April and from Thatto Heath Library in St Helens in October.

When paths cross/Wenn sich wege kreuzen
Rathaus Galerie, Stuttgart
Germany
19th November – 14th December 2018.
An invitation to the opening of our twin town exhibition on Friday 16th November 2018 at 6pm, Rathaus Stuttgart, 4th floor, Marktplatz 1, 70173.
Welcome speech by Nadia Vom Schiedt: Director of the Department of International Relations, followed by an introduction talk by Vivien Sigmund: Art Historian MA.
This exhibition takes place in the context of the 70 year partnership between Stuttgart and St Helens and the 30 year partnership with Lodz. It showcases 4 artists from St Helens, 1 from Lodz and 4 Stuttgart artists, who have all undertaken artist exchanges between the towns.

Exhibiting artists:
Naoise Johnson-Martin, Rhyannon Parry, Rebecca Ainsworth, Claire Weetman, Ellen Rein, NAF (Nana Hühewig and Fender Schrade), Monika Drache, Magdalena Kowalczyk

Opening Times: Monday to Friday 10am – 6pm, Free Entry.
Duration of Exhibition: 19 November until 14 December.

Artist Books in the Autumn. Stuttgart/Yokohama/Manchester

This autumn the three editions of Aridane’s thread will be joining a host other artist-book makers from around the world in three exhibitions.

Seiten | Räume
an artist-book project

// opening 12.9.2018 // Württembergische Kunstverein, Stuttgart

Linienscharen is a platform for contemporary drawing, which was founded in Stuttgart. Linienscharen have invited artists to submit a book project in the spirit of an artist’s book, which is to be exhibited at various locations that are not typical visual arts venues. A piece of furniture will be built that will present the submitted books in unison, allowing the audience the freedom to explore and leaf through the varied books. There will be an event for the opening at each location that focuses on inherent or additional aspects of the topic. After a week or two, the furniture will move on to another location, including the Graphothek at Stuttgart Bibliothek and the Stuttgarter Schriftstellerhaus (writer’s house)

Promoted by the city of Stuttgart

Reading Between The Lines:
Tokyo/Yokohama and St. Helens Artists’ Books and Zine

21 September – 1 October 2018.
Launchpad Gallery, Yokohama

Turning the Page: Manchester – Yokohama

29 September – 3 November 2018
Private View: Thursday 27 September 2018, 6-9pm
Paper Gallery, Manchester

Established in 2012 in the Tokyo/Yokohama area, Art Byte Critique responds to a desire for a community of artists interested in sharing ideas and feedback about their studio process.

Since 2014, Art Byte Critique artists have been exploring various modes of expression through artists’ books and zines. At the same time, Art Byte Critique established a connection with artists in St. Helens, England through artist Joan Birkett with the intent to develop relationships and collaborations.

This connection has happily borne fruit in 2018. Art Byte Critique artists and St. Helens artists organized a collaborative exhibition of artists’ books and zines at the Eccleston Community Library in St. Helens and the World of Glass in St. Helens this past spring. These works will tour to Paper Gallery in Manchester under the title “Turning the Page” from September 29 – November 3, 2018.

“Reading Between the Lines” at Launch Pad Gallery in Yokohama is the first collaborative artists’ books and zines exhibition for Art Byte Critique and the St. Helens artists in Japan. This exhibition will feature recent works and new works created by a number of artists for this exhibition. In the spirit of bookmaking and collaboration, “Reading Between the Lines” will be hosting a series of workshops and events by the artists. We want to give visitors a chance to learn more about bookmaking and try their hand at bookmaking.
Participating Artists:

Jane Barwood, Joan Birkett, Paul Cousins Deanna Gabiga Arthur Huang Patty Hudak Mariko Jesse Yuko Kamei A.J. Malone Jeni McConnell Carol Miller Julia Nascimento Lyle Nisenholz Mia O Lori Ono Jacqui Priestley Louise Rouse Yvonne Tinsley Claire Weetman Nick West

Interval 1.1, Ordsall Hall, Salford

My work ‘What are you waiting for’ will be exhibited again from February at Ordsall Hall in Salford as part of the next iteration of Markmakers’ exhibition ‘Interval’.

Interval 1.1

Opens Sunday 11 February 2018, 2-3.30pm
Exhibition continues to 13 May 2018.

Ordsall Hall, 322 Ordsall Lane, Salford, M5 3AN
Open Monday – Thursday 10am-4pm, Sundays 1-4pm

What is an interval?
Is it just blank space?
Is there anything of interest in the gaps?

As a group of artists, ‘Markmakers’ come together to explore common themes through each artist’s individual contemporary art practice. Over the past year their theme has been interval. What is an interval? Is it just a blank space? Is there anything of interest in the gaps?

The exhibition will include new work directly inspired by Ordsall Hall with some interventions in other areas of the Hall.

Have a break, visit interval.

Getting there:

Car Parking: Please note that car park charges apply during the Hall’s opening hours (Monday – Thursday 10am – 4pm and Sunday 1 – 4pm). Costs are £2 for up to 3 hours and £6 for over 3 hours.

Tram:The Hall is very close to the Exchange Quay Metrolink Station on the MediaCity UK / Eccles line.

Bus:Any bus to Salford Quays on the A5063 stops on Trafford Road (the Copthorne Hotel) leaving a short walk to the Hall.

Christmas print sale, 9th December

This year I’ve been making a lot (for me) of print work, exploring monoprinting and adding in a little bit of screenprint for variety. I’ve participated in the Hot Bed Press 20:20 print exchange, which saw a flurry of print activity and furrowed brows at Platform studios in St Helens as 9 other artists joined together to create a series of 25 prints at 20cm square.

To celebrate this joint enterprise, we’re having a festive celebration at Platform studios on Saturday 9th December from 1-4pm. You’ll be able to view the works produced for the exchange, see the works we’ve received from other printmakers across the UK, eat cake that has been baked to fit the 20x20cm guidelines and enjoy a warming hot chocolate.

I’ll have a selection of prints for sale, some are especially festive and others are things I’ve worked on during this year. There will be prices from £2 to £10, and all of the proceeds from these sales will be ploughed into producing a new programme of work planned for 2018 that works directly with people who have been displaced from their home countries. Available prints and prices are in the gallery below, if you see something you like but can’t make it on the 9th, then get in touch and I can post it out to you for the price of a first class stamp (an extra 75p).

 

Interval – a Markmakers Exhibition

My new work, What are you waiting for? features in the latest exhibition by artist collective Markmakers, which opens at The Brindley Arts Centre, Runcorn on 2 October 2017.  This set of six custom-made belts feature retractable crowd control barriers, designed to be worn by performers in a public space, creating moveable spaces for waiting as the wearers move around a street.  The first experimental iteration of this intervention will take place in Runcorn on Monday 9th October 2017 and if you’d like to join in or come and observe, then get in touch via my contact page.

The work is part of the exhibition Interval, by Markmakers.

What is an interval?
Is it just blank space?
Is there anything of interest in the gaps?

The latest exhibition by Markmakers invites you take an interval. Step inside the punctuated, whitewashed walls of the gallery and consider self imposed breaks in life. Explore concepts of time. Sit, stand, look or listen.

Have a break, visit interval.

The Brindley Gallery, Runcorn
2 October-25 November 2017

Meet the artists event
Saturday 7 October 2017, 12:00-13:00

The Brindley, High Street, Runcorn, WA7 1BG
FREE. Mon – Fri 10am – 5pm, Sat 10am – 2pm.
Closed Sundays & Bank Holidays.

Drawings – July-September 2017

I’ve had a recent flurry of drawing activity that has had a public showing over the summer.  A pair of monoprints titled ‘Helped up/Held down’ won the Drawing category at the St Helens Open exhibition at the World of Glass, these drawings are also due to appear in a national arts publication soon, which I’ll share when it is published:

And a set of three drawings that are part of the ‘Drawing the Collection’ exhibition, also at The World of Glass. They are based on observations in the hot glass studio of The World of Glass, observing how the ellipses of glass morph and change in the process of hand blowing different vessels.

‘Drawing the Collection’ is on show at The World of Glass until Friday 3rd November 2017.

TEN: Cornerstone Gallery, Hope University Liverpool

7 July – 10 October

The Cornerstone Gallery at Hope University in Liverpool celebrates it’s ten year anniversary this summer with an exhibition of artists who have exhibited there in the previous decade.  I’ll be showing one of my pinned collages created in Shanghai in 2012.  The show will be open during the Liverpool Independents Biennial, 9am-5pm weekdays only.

The Cornerstone Gallery,
Liverpool Hope University,
Creative Campus,
17 Shaw Street,
Liverpool, L6 1HP.

A landscape of marginal encounters

My solo exhibition ‘A landscape of marginal encounters’ opens from Saturday 28 June 2014 at The Brindley Arts Centre in Runcorn.  From the draw o expansive spaces in big cities to encounters in more intimate spaces, this exhibition will feature new installations and artworks which explore how people move through spaces and what factors affect that movement.

Saturday 26 July

Artist’s talk | 1pm | free event
Claire Weetman will be speaking about her work in the gallery at the Brindley.

All welcome, refreshments will be served.


A Landscape of marginal Encounters
28 June – 9 August 2014
The Brindley
High Street Runcorn, WA7 1BG
www.thebrindley.org.uk

Supported by Arts Council England Grants for the Arts, Halton Borough Council Arts Development Team, Castlefield Gallery New Art Spaces, Metal Time and Space residency, New Mills Arts Festival.