We published place: soapworks as SPP’s contribution to a month-long program of art exhibitions, projects, performances, and events, to take place in the shell of the former Old Soapworks and later Gardiner Haskins store, in Bristol, a short distance from Temple Meads station. Built in 1865, the buildings are destined for redevelopment. The arts program is a collaboration between Centre of Gravity, a Bristol-based group bringing together the expansive contemporary visual arts communities of Bristol and Bath to the point of focus, and property developer First Base. The exhibition ran from 2 October to 1 November, and featured work from over 60 artists and curators, a programme of events and performances, as well as key research projects and symposia in partnership with the Art Research Centre, Bath Spa University.
SPP’s expanded practice is expressed in the book in image, word, and action. Its collation represented an opportunity for members to respond to an extraordinary site, albeit in challenging circumstances brought about by the covid-19 pandemic, which limited the original ambition of the organisers. The book was supported through Arts Council England funding and also the Art Research Centre, Bath Spa University. Each member has a definitive creative practice and brought this to bear through encounters made; responding and activating their fieldwork through the architecture of imagination, histories; of possible futures and possible pasts. These responses raise questions around performing place, and alternative models for dissemination of visual research generated through experiences of the site.
Place: (re)enchantment is a collection of short essays by members of Space Place Practice. It began as a conversation, and differing opinions, at one of our forums about our understandings of the term ‘re-enchantment’ in relation to place. The word is fashionable within creative industries, but what do we mean by it? As someone said, it’s a word that needs a really good shake. This collection of essays is more of a respectful frisk, and as such opens the way for a wider conversation about the ecology of people, place, and cultural context. It is our aspiration to develop a series of books on a variety of themes related to place.
A Group Response to Climate Crisis
In the afternoon session of SPP’s meeting on 8 February 2020, Richard Keating led a workshop: A Group Response to Climate Crisis. It was based on a conversation that emerged out of Lydia Halcrow’s presentation at our AGM in Autumn 2019. Richard asked a series of questions about members’ art practice and social engagement...
- In what specific context(s) might you want your practice to be socially engaged?
- What would you like it to achieve / create / explore?
- In these contexts, what would you think your practice could add?
- Who might the community be and what might your relationship as an artist be with them and the environment?
We were encouraged to think about whether we saw individual areas of practice as involving public engagement, and what this might mean to us and what we might seek by achieving it. This sparked some interesting discussions, particularly as our practices vary so greatly.
Our warm thanks go to Richard for leading this session. Here is a selection of responses, in no particular order...
Embodied Absence and Evoking the Ancestors
March 2020 saw the publication of Davina Kirkpatrick’s paper ‘Embodied Absence and Evoking the Ancestors: A Collaborative Encounter’ in Art/Research International: A Transdisciplinary Journal (Volume 5 Issue 1, 2020). This peer-reviewed publication is a forum dedicated to exploring and advancing art as and/or within the research process across disciplines and internationally.
Davina’s paper describes her 2011 collaboration with fellow SPP member Rob Irving, when they were both PhD cohorts at the University of the West of England’s PLaCE Research Centre.