CIVIC

A collaborative investigation of the visible and invisible structures and infrastructures centred in and around the art gallery and other cultural centres/organisations, considering the role of partnerships, dialogue, learning, opportunity and engagement.

Background

The first manifestation of this project in 2014, was as an interrogation of the city where Mission Gallery is based – an invitation to propose architectural and other interventions for a number of sites across Swansea. It was, and is, a process of observation and speculation, which for Swansea, evolved into an exhibition. This was an imaginative, discursive and creative space within Mission Gallery and we used it as a platform and fixed location from which to initiate a new series of events or actions. It was where partnership outcomes, visuals and printed material produced by exhibitors and contributors, was shown.

Curated by the Artist Bella Kerr, the initial question was; ‘How will the city be investigated?’ A number of local architectural practices, makers, writers and artists were asked to participate and several sites and themes identified. Architects, artists and writers produced and proposed responses to a site and architects were paired with another practitioner for each site. The term site was expanded to incorporate the idea of ‘between sites’ or other interpretations.

Before the exhibition, architects, artists, writers, academics, residents and makers conducted Art Walks where they ‘walked and talked’ the city. During the exhibition period, we approached the questions it posed through themed ‘table talk’ discussions. These public events involved invited guests and contributions from all over the UK. An integrated Education Programme was central to the project and addressed learning for all ages through making and participation, alongside an interactive area ‘PLAY – BUILD – LEARN’ for children and families.

International & Partnership Projects

Following an offsite project for Cardiff Contemporary later in 2014, CIVIC’s investigations and material was used to develop important international projects for Mission Gallery in Venice and New York through 2016. In New York, the proposal was for a collaborative investigation of the visible and invisible structures and infrastructures centred in and around the art gallery and other cultural centres/organisations, considering the role of partnerships, dialogue, learning, opportunity and engagement. Bella Kerr and Mission Gallery’s Director Amanda Roderick met with various individuals and groups within arts organisations in New York. Artists, Curators, Architects, Arts Educators were approached with a set of questions to initiate discussion and debate:

  • How are location, site and architecture important when defining a gallery/other space and its artistic philosophy?
  • For galleries/other, what are the connections to the city and wider community?
  • How does partnership work and feed into an organisation’s programming and strategy?
  • How do the smaller galleries, grass roots organisations, studio groups and collectives, work alongside each other in collaboration with the larger established venues?
  • Are genuine creative partnership formed to the benefit of each organisation and the artists/others involved?

Future Projects

There is a wealth of information and ideas within CIVIC which provides opportunity for dialogue or exchange to be developed also. Its methodology and context now forms an essential part of the organisations long term strategy, embedded within our Exhibition and Learning Programmes. CIVIC informs the philosophy and vision regarding Mission Gallery’s participatory and collaborative engagement work across the city via our offsite and residency programmes, as well as its ongoing development

In New York, numerous contacts and connections were made regarding possible spaces and potential participants were identified with regard to future projects there for Wales, US and European practitioners.

We are interested in developing the partnership with artists and organisations involved in public art, urban interventions and community engagement and further exploring the richness of our encounters and experiences through CIVIC.

Contact us: info@civicarchive.co.uk