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community as artist// workshop as exhibition-research-project

Research, meetings, future projects, conversations

Sheelagh Colclough, community arts organisations, Household Collective

Ends 25 April 2015

community as artist// workshop as exhibition is the key theme for PS² in 2015/16. As a practical step, we will hand-over our project space in Donegall Street to community (arts) organisations which work with art as a tool for social/ environmental change.
Throughout the year and for several projects, PS² will act as venue for workshops, meetings and exhibition space for projects realised by the cooperating organisations. PS² will offer support, help and assistance during the process of the projects and the formats of their presentations.
In reverse, we will gain insight and knowledge in the complexities, pitfalls and potentials of socially engaged art and participatory processes here in Belfast. A mutual learning and discovery process which hopefully leads to fruitful outcomes, excitement and great art.

This short project will mark the start of community as artist// workshop as exhibition through conversations with the cooperating organisations, artists and the interested public.

Sheelagh Colclough: work in progress, April 2015

Sheelagh Colclough: Yakety Yak

For this project, PS² asked the artist Sheelagh Colclough, to show some of her research material and visual work around one of her key subjects: the institutionalisation of community arts.
She created an installation and spatial framework in which the meetings and conversations will take place; a provocative and stimulating office ambiente, where additions and changes can be made during the duration of this project.
Critical and ironic, theoretical and practical, Sheelagh Colclough deals with questions of community and art in different ways: she established, tongue in cheek, the Sheelagh Foundation, a near perfect imitation of a creative corporation; she organised performative consultation sessions; conducted interviews with artists and community workers and illustrated some in drawings and paintings.
For her contribution in this project she writes:
This is a reworking of previous work which was ‘an examination of community arts from the inside out’. The body of work which inaugurated the conceptual conceit, the Sheelagh Foundation, compromised of a visual art and text based exhibition, consisting of 30 mixed media paintings generated from confidential interviews with funders, arts organisations, artists, community workers and participants, culminating in an interactive performance based launch masquerading as a community arts conference.
This excerpt in PS² seeks to re-examine and further deconstruct themes still relevant eight years on and hopes to stimulate debate at what seems a crisis point within this area of the arts. Can you answer these questions:
- What is community arts? Is there a difference between it and ‘real art’?
- Should community arts have to have any aesthetic value? Whose? - Do you think the ‘socially disadvantaged’ get the most out of community arts?
- Is funding community arts the same as charity?
- Can anyone be an artist?
- What is an artists’ role in society?

The Sheelagh Foundation is a for-profit artist's collective of one, conceived by Belfast based artist and agitator Sheelagh Colclough in 2007. She has 15 years of experience as an arts facilitator, trainer, producer, programmer and researcher. Her work examines the hierarchies of state sanctioned social interventions present in many community and collaborative art projects from which the Sheelagh Foundation was born.

Household Collective- presentation

Image: Fiona Whelan


Saturday, 18 April, 2-4pm
Living with Art and Art within Living: An Afternoon with the Household Collective
As part of the community as artist programme 2015/16, you're invited to spend some time with the five members of the Household curatorial collective.They will be sharing some ideas and case-studies from individual and collaborative research compiled to date as part of their current residency at PS². [FULLY BOOKED]

Wednesday, 22 April, 1pm
Collaborative Chit Chat - Join Charlotte Bosanquet and Sheelagh Colclough in conversation
As part of PS²'s community as artist// workshop as exhibition programming, artists Charlotte Bosanquet and Sheelagh Colclough will talk collaboration, community and other conundrums within the Northern Irish context. Audience participation invited, tangents may occur. All welcome.
Charlotte Bosanquet argues that art is a collaborative process that can't exist without the help and dialogue of others. Her recent work includes Curator in Residence, PS², Belfast; curation of FieldWork for the Niland Gallery, Galway and representing the Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast at Scope Art Fair, New York, 2014. She is a founding member of PRIME collective and is currently in residency at Digital Art Studios, Belfast.
This event will be recorded. 

Related activities
Date: Tuesday, 24 March 2015
Location: 117 Upper Meadow Street, Belfast
Time: 3-5pm
As part of the UK wide series 'ARTWORKS Conversation' by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, PS² is organising an informal, open talk about art in and with the community. With our main theme of 'community as artist' for 2015/16, this discussion purposely leaves the art-space and takes place in a youth centre in North Belfast.
Community arts has a long tradition in Northern Ireland. Initially as a radical social inclusion movement in the arts - amplified by the troubles and their impact on communities- it is now an established and institutionalised form of social engagement and vehicle of transformation.
Or has been.
With severe cuts in arts funding and social infrastructure, the question of 'public benefit' is a means to justify closures of programmes and organisations, eliminating professional knowledge and skills. It also pre-empts efforts of new approaches of a creative industry in need of re-orientation, both in terms of social intervention and artistic spark.
Nevertheless, in a climate of frustration and anxiety, the need and urgency of the arts in and with the community should be critically reassessed from various positions:
Why do artists engage in neighbourhoods and communities?
What role and benefit is there for participants?
Where is it placed- between street, community centre and gallery?

Friday, 14 November, 3-5pm at PS²
Instrumental or Radical ? – A Panel Discussion on Socially Engaged Arts

As part of the research for community as artist, PS² invited Sarah Tuck to set the subject within a theoretical context. For this informal conversation, a panel with Philip Napier, Sarah Tuck and others will explore the tensions that exist in thinking around socially engaged art – from the radical to the instrumental – from ideas of socially engaged arts as a form of cultural democracy to the suggestion that it can provide solutions for social change.
In addressing this question of co-optation or critical autonomy the panel will examine this field of practice as an intersection of art, politics and the public sphere.
Everyone welcome.