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Launching in January 2021, the Artist Research Labs project is a research and exchange forum set up to help artists grow their ideas and discover the next chapter of their practice. In series one of the programme, artists Bryony Benge-Abbott, John A. Blythe, Nor Greenhalgh, Sam Skinner and Sunil Shah met regularly between January and March 2021. During these meetings they discussed, explored and collectively reflected on their practices, with a particular focus on considerations of sustainability in relation to their work.
When the programme finished at the end of March, the artists met with the Fusion Arts team and presented what they had discovered, created and learned during Art Labs. The programme was also concluded with a Fusion Instagram takeover which showcased the work, reflections and discoveries of the artists to a wider audience.
As each session came to an end, the artists met with the Fusion team to present what they had explored and learned during their time with the programme. Moreover, Art Labs concluded with a Fusion Instagram takeover which showcased the work and discoveries of the artists to a wider audience. Although series one has come to an end, Fusion and the artists continue to keep in contact, and we have since collaborated with and supported the artists on various projects.
Scroll down for more information about the Art Labs series one artists.
Pictured below is Kingdom of Roots, part of Bryony's Kingdom of Roots painting series. Bryony's work spans public murals, oil paintings, surface pattern designs, exhibitions and 'wild drawing' walks, using each medium to create interventions and experiences that invite a deeper exploration of the natural world and our relationship with it.
In July 2021, Fusion collaborated with Bryony to contribute a beautiful floral street mural to the Broad Meadow community space in central Oxford. We also interviewed Bryony about her practice over on our blog, which you can read here.
“Art Labs has provided an invaluable space for critical thinking, experimentation and play, through which I've learned far more than anticipated about my creative practice and the direction in which I want to take it going forward.”
John's work is particularly focused on our connection to materiality and in his practice he often explores cameraless image making techniques that straddle the genres of both photography and painting. Below is a work from his Chromogenesis series, in which John used obsolete photographic paper to create photographs without the influence of light.
John is responsible for reviving the community darkroom at Fusion Arts and regularly runs photography workshops in the centre. Recently, John was filmed in Fusion for BBC Two show Celebrity Antiques Road Trip, where he showed Philippa Perry to make cyanotypes. We also interviewed John over on our blog.⠀
Pictured below is Nor's Milestones. The work is part of a series of concept illustrations in which Nor used the new low-traffic street scheme in East Oxford as a jumping off point to design a range of art pieces that help reclaim the roads as welcoming hubs for pedestrians and cyclists.
We have collaborated with Nor on a number of projects, including her Elder Vernacular exhibition and workshop at 95 Gloucester Green and later 51 Between Towns Road, as well as the 2020 Stay Safe Murals commissions. More recently we have been supporting Nor as one of the commissioned artists creating public art in Botley West Way. We also chatted to Nor over on our blog.
Sam's practice focuses on the relations between community, technology and horticulture. Below is an installation view from RTM.fm, a community radio in Thamesmead. The station now provides opportunities for local people to produce and distribute their own content and learn new skills in broadcasting, production, and presenting.
Art Labs has supported Sam to establish Fig, a community project based between Elder Stubbs Allotment and Makespace Central that works with artists, writers, designers, horticulturalists and communities to support the development of innovative new work. In September 2021, Fusion worked with Fig to run Elder Vernacular, an exhibition and drop-in workshop of biodegradable art by Nor Greenhalgh for Oxfordshire's Great Big Green Week. You can find out more about Sam's work over on our blog.⠀⠀
Pictured is an untitled piece from Sunil's Uganda Series archive (2012 - 2021). The series addresses Sunil's family history of being Asians expelled from Uganda in 1972 by Idi Amin and subsequently coming to the UK as refugees to rebuild their lives.
Fusion Arts has been working with Sunil and Modern Art Oxford to deliver Activating our Archives, a yearly research project that brings a group of local participants together to explore their personal archives, express stories, generate ideas and create new work using photographs, films, digital images, archives and collections.
You can find more about Sunil over on our blog where we interviewed him about his practice.
“Arts Lab has been a really welcome period of engaging conversations on sustainability with the other artists on the programme. Their ideas, thoughts and projects have been hugely inspiring.”
For the next iteration of the Artist Research Labs Programme, we have been supporting and working with four diverse local musical artists who are interested in social justice issues, collaborative practice, education and sustainability. Starting in November 2021, the artists have been coming together to exchange ideas and collectively considering these topics within their practices.
Artist involved are:
There are plans to further collaborate with the group in 2022.
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