Monday, 25 November 2013

Art Academy trip to the Art Party Conference

Members of Islington Mill Art Academy spent the weekend in the beautiful, bracing Yorkshire resort of Scarborough having a stand at the first Art Party Conference, hosted by artist Bob and Roberta Smith.
A selection of Islington Mill Art Academy members past and present wearing their sashes, especially made for the occasion of the Art Party Conference!
The event was filled with talks, performances, film screenings and hands-on art activities, as well as discussions around the nature, value and importance of art and art education, both in schools and in wider society, with contributions from artists, educators, students and other interested parties. It almost felt like the entire Manchester art scene had decamped to the seaside for the weekend, as there were so many representatives from galleries and artists there, but we also met people involved in interesting initiatives from other towns and cities around the country (and got a chance to catch up with past collaborators and former members who are now based elsewhere).

The Art Academy stand, in the glass-roofed Vitadome, displayed posters from the extensive Islington Mill Art Academy archive (2007-present) to show off the diversity of our activities.
On the stall were zines comprising a selection of images from the Art Academy archive (risographed by Islington Mill-based printers Mono and hand-collated in the car on the journey down, with an off-cut from some of member Maurice Carlin's prints folded around each one), alongside special hand-made badges (many of them depicting the face of Education Secretary Michael Gove MP). The Islington Mill sign was recycled from the recent Sluice Art Fair in London.
A visitor to the Islington Mill Art Academy stand in the Vitadome, Amelia Crouch from Leeds-based collective Black Dogs; we hope to link up with similar groups such as these in the future.
We asked visitors to answer some provocative questions about the nature and role of art, education, learning and ideas.
We also asked visitors to write down suggestions of books/films for our reading groups (including those that have been important to them and their development as artists).
Artist and former member Amy Pennington's bike was laden with Old Flo-themed merchandise such as badges and temporary tattoos.
Maurice Carlin shows off his temporary Old Flo-themed tattoo, inspired by Henry Moore's Tower Hamlets sculpture.
The day started with a march, which finished on the beach.
Lots of home-made banners were on display.
The grand hall was also filled with art and art education-themed banners and placards, as well as many portraits of Education Secretary Michael Gove MP.
Bob and Roberta Smith took to the stand to argue the importance of art education.
Special guest 'Michael Grove MP' also spoke (and then left the stand to a chorus of catcalls and slow handclaps).
Other activities on offer at the event included a 'Goveshy'!
ArtsAdmin's nail art stand transferred tiny images of inspirational feminist figures onto visitors' nails.
A performance took place overlooking a pretty end-of-day sky, with the soothing sound of the waves in the background.
The Spa venue was vast and grand and had a glittering view around the bay.
The day culminated, like most good things do, in some dancing.
Our trip was fun, thought-provoking, interesting, stimulating and tiring. In many ways the event felt like it was preaching to the converted, although it was a chance to share ideas on art and art education and to link up with other people we hadn't come across before. Hopefully the event will have showed that there is a critical mass of those who believe art is something important and worth prioritising in education. It will be good if future events and activities can build on this starting point and engage with even more people, not just those already active in the art scene. Hopefully people will have gone away inspired to do things themselves and to get involved in promoting their own events and initiatives.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

The Art Party Conference

Islington Mill Art Academy will be at The Art Party Conference on the 23rd of November in Scarborough.

 See you there!