Young People's Collaborative Project Launch Event

16 April 2021

On Saturday 13 February, 2021, the Arts Council Collection hosted the first event for the Young People’s Collaborative Project, part of the National Partners Programme.

Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and national lockdown, this launch event was hosted online via Zoom. It brought together members of the youth groups from the partner venues: Celebrate Different at Sunderland Culture, SEEN at Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange, and YAK at Firstsite, Colchester and was facilitated by the youth-led and Bristol based Rising Arts Agency.

This was the first time for members from all three youth groups to meet, albeit over the internet, have an introduction to the Collection and begin thinking about their collaborative project. Over the course of three hours, we did icebreaker activities, listened to presentations by Arts Council Collection artists John Walter and Flo Brooks, learned about curating from Rising Arts’ Campaign & Communication Manager Rosa ter Kuile, did breakout sessions to prompt discussions about exhibition-making, and finished with a zine workshop.

Prior to the event, artist Flo Brooks invited the young people to submit questions to him which he’d then respond to in a pre-recorded video which would be shared during the event. His willingness to answer “informal, intimate, challenging” questions was well and truly tested by our participants! Questions such as “how do you start the complex pieces”, and “do you work from photographs or memory?” allowed insight into his artists process, while others allowed for Flo to share more personal comments on his experiences as a queer, trans man. 

Using images of his works, together with archival photographs, sketches and found imagery, Flo put together a rich and varied slide show to illustrate his answers as captured in the two stills from the presentation below. You can read the full transcript from the Q&A here.

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Arts Council Collection: Young People's Collaborative Project Launch Event
Arts Council Collection: Young People's Collaborative Project Launch Event

We were lucky to have John Walter join us in person for the event. John Walter’s work encompasses a diverse range of media, including painting, drawing, artist’s books, sculpture, costume, performance, video, sound, installation and spatial design. His oeuvre is characterised by an exuberant use of colour and pattern as well as an absurdist and tragicomic use of humour. He works serially, producing iterative bodies of work that accumulate to form large and distinct projects, and often collaborates with individuals and institutions such as other artists, scientists and museums in order to exchange images, ideas and narratives. 

John participated in an Q&A style presentation with Jodie Edwards, General Manager, National Partners Programme, discussing his background, his inspirations, his multi-faceted practice, and how it feels to have work in a national collection.

Walter explained “For me, it's an incredible honour. I'm part of two public collections in the UK – [the Arts Council Collection] and the Walker Art Gallery as well… The way I have survived is not primarily by selling work. It's by designing projects that I run, and so for the work to find a home is the biggest achievement it can have, that it can live on and other people can see it...for perpetuity.

John's answers the young people's questions in the following video clips:

The group greatly enjoyed hearing from John about his experience as an artist firsthand and having the opportunity to ask him questions directly. Many commented on his strong jumper game, of course.

“It was great to hear from curators and artists about how they approach different themes and situations - i’ve been very inspired to explore taking art outside of the gallery space more and perhaps using our organisations to spread the work more into the local community, rather than within the 4 walls of the gallery. I also feel inspired to explore more themes within my own work :)”  - Quote from YAK member.

“How we are not confined to doing one style, we can be our own personalities expressed into art” - Quote from Celebrate Different member.

 

“I’ve had fun seeing people like me and discussing how they curate art! Seeing other people’s thoughts and feelings about art has been a wonderful experience. Seeing other trans or queer artists has been like a very emotional mirror, it’s been lovely to see other people like me succeeding.”  - Quote from SEEN member.

As one attendee put in the chat “Much better than my usual saturday!”, we hope to all meet again in this digital space, speak with more artists from the collection, make together and along for more space to discuss the Young People’s Collaborative exhibition.

 

Learn more about Flo Brooks and John Walter.

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The Arts Council Collection is the UK's most widely seen collection of modern and contemporary art.

With more than 8,000 works by over 2,000 artists, it can be seen in exhibitions and public displays across the country and beyond. This website offers unprecedented access to the Collection, and information about each work can be found on this site.