Following on from our In Situ Cinema project in Queen’s Park, Bedford in July 2016, we invited the residents of Chester and Carlisle Roads to join us and artist Maria Anastassiou in a second filmmaking project.
Following on from our In Situ Cinema project in Queen’s Park, Bedford in July 2016, we invited the residents of Chester and Carlisle Roads to join us and artist Maria Anastassiou in a second filmmaking project.
Looking out over Bedford’s skyline, contemplate the town’s future through the eyes of a child. Booking open.
Aid & Abet’s David Kefford and Sarah Evans will ask how can artists activate the local scene, build a network, create an artist led space and make things happen without big money or big cities. Based in Cambridge, they are interested in socially engaged practice that enables groups to work together and explore everyday life through creative activity.
BedPop participants were invited to fly over Bedford, host their own weather forecast and land on their very own planet as we de-mystified the TV green screen.
Artists’ Supper 3, plotting the artists’ revolution with DashnDem.
Have you ever found yourself daydreaming about a different future? Are you a gamer, sci-fi lover or activist?
How can our libraries adapt to changing times? The marketing machine of Formula 1 might not spring to mind but for artist Chris Dobrowolski it was the inspiration behind his new project Selfie Slot Car Championship. Created in early 2016 as part of the Library as Laboratory commission, this project was an experiment in making and marketing in our selfie-obsessed world. The artist invited local families along to workshops at Dunstable Library to make slot-car replicas of their own domestic cars. Then two weeks later the families returned to the library to race their slot car in a one-day championship. Twenty five cars took part in what proved to be a passionate and hotly contested event. Chris Dobrowolski is an artist, maker, story teller and car enthusiast. He is known for creating homemade life-size vehicles that actually work, such as a hovercraft and an aeroplane. For the Dunstable Library project his inspiration came from an unexpected source. “My approach started with a satirical look at advertising and marketing” says Chris, “and I decided that Formula 1 motor racing sponsorship was probably the most expensive and glamorous form there was. I then tried to find a way to associate this with the not so glamorous context of the library. In my mind creating an alternative championship using the slot car was a way of mirroring the dystopian experience of the world outside we live in,” said Chris. So on a cold half-term week in February 2016, Chris found himself in the Asda car park in Dunstable armed with a mobile phone and selfie stick. “The idea was for people to park their car in the Asda car park next to Dunstable Library and pose inside their car. I then took photos of the whole car – front, bonnet, boot, roof and sides”
Step back in time to the post-punk scene of the mid 1980’s. Think Siouxsie Sioux, a DIY ethic, scratch video, protest, Thatcher. This is the backdrop to Dump It On Parliament Revisited, a new living history artwork exploring counter-culture local history, and created by artists Dash MacDonald and Demitrios Kargotis (DASHNDEM) and artist/musician Roshi Nasehi.
In July 2016 a group of young residents living in Bedford’s Queen’s Park took to their local streets in a film-making project about the place where they live. Over a period of four weekends they worked with artists Julie Myers and Maria Anastassiou to explore their neighbourhood and create a magical and irreverent film about life on Chester and Carlisle Roads. From revealing hidden spaces and favourite places for play, to collecting the neighbourhood’s sounds and memories from residents young and old, the film explores the two roads with the children as our guides. The scenes reflect thoughts and ideas the residents have about their home. The defunct telephone box becomes a silver birch tree, the concrete wall separating the estate from the recreation ground becomes a magic gate into the park, speeding cars vanish and gardens become places for adventure. All the local residents from the two roads road were invited to stop by, join the group activities and chat about what it’s like to live in their part of Bedford, but it was the children who jumped at the chance to make recordings, photos and films about what they liked and what they’d like to see change. “We were interested in working with local residents to produce a more intimate reflection of their thoughts and ideas. The children have their own view about the place they live; they see the environment very differently to adults. The children took their storytelling and turned it into filmmaking, creating sound, images and some clever special effects.” Julie Myers, artist Working from the artists’ circus style black and white cinema tent, the children used microphones, a 16mm film camera and a digital camera to interview their neighbours, collect stories, record snippets of songs they sang and noises they could hear around them and
On Friday 4th March 2016, 80 creative people and businesses gathered at the University of Bedfordshire, Bedford Campus for the 2016 instalment of our annual creative business conference. There was networking, local inspiration and advice around the subject of Growth. Dawn Giles from Bedford Creative Arts kicked off the conference with a provocation on Price, Cost & Value. Guest speakers Addison Accounts, Stanmore IP, Keeping it Social, and Pavilion at the Park covered introductions to key business topics across Finance, Intellectual Property, Briefing Social Media, Pitching a Business Collaboration. Arabel Lebrusan, Bespoke and Limited Edition Jewels, Nila Holden, Artisan Cakes and Cookies and Velocity Business Adviser, Aruna Bhagwan took part in an afternoon Q&A panel focused on sharing individual founders’ stories, practical growth advice and local business growth support. Songwriter, Kristine Wilkinson Hughes wrapped up the afternoon with personal words on the growth of a creative career and project, and entertained us with an inspired Song About Growth. Throughout the day Darren Rose and Martin Steers worked together to capture images and audio of the insight and atmosphere from the creative people in the room. Sole traders, freelancers and imaginative independent businesses of all kinds were encouraged to attend. * 16 creative professionals from across Bedfordshire were involved in the production of the Creative Bedfordshire conference across host, speaker, design, photography, audio recording, social media, song writing and production support. * The Conference took place for a second year at the University of Bedfordshire, Polhill, Bedford, with thanks to the support of Roisin Kendall, Access Partnership Manager on the Centre for Academic Partnerships Team * Aruna Bhagwan, a Velocity business support advisor, attended the entire event and spoke as part of the afternoon Growth panel discussion and as a result is now delivering further Growth support to a number of
Open Forum 2016 was a series of FREE events for practicing visual artists offering advice and support. Artists were given the option to discuss their work in a one to one session with either Emma Hill from the Eagle Gallery or Matt Roberts from Matt Roberts Arts, a not-for-profit organisation founded in 2006 to create opportunities for artists in new locations and contexts. The one to one’s focused on commercial practice and funding. This was followed up by a panel discussion the following day at The Higgins Bedford for the opportunity to speak with experienced curators, artists and gallery directors about your artistic practice. Panelists Emma Hill (Eagle gallery) Catherine Hemelryk (NN Contemporary Art) Alex Michon (Transition gallery) Chaired by Matt Roberts The aim of Open Forum was to provide advice to artists in regions where the commercial sector is less visible. Featuring; Emma Hill, owner of the Eagle Gallery, London. Established in 1991, their founding principle was to support emerging artists and over the last 20 years it has exhibited work by many individuals who are now recognised internationally. Catherine Hemelryk, Artistic Director of NN Contemporary, a consultant curator for public art with Plan Projects and Expert Panel member of OPUN. Alex Michon, is a British artist and writer, based in London who has run the Transition Gallery in Hackney with Cathy Lomax, since 2004 The event was chaired by Matt Roberts. Each panellist presented a case study of how they have supported an artist, and helped them to establish themselves, followed by a Q&A with the audience about artists development.
On 15 April 2016, twenty-six handbags and their owners took to the stage when artist Geraldine Pilgrim’s celebratory performance, Handbag, moon-walked its way to Leighton Buzzard Library Theatre. Seen as an opportunity to explore the library and its theatre as the location for new and unique encounters as part of the Library as Laboratory commission, this one-night-only experience left the Library locals boogying the night away.
Composed by Stephen Deazley and featuring renowned (and Bedfordshire local!) percussionist Joby Burgess, PUNKIT was commissioned by Bedford Creative Arts and developed in partnership with Love Music for young people. Its creation was driven by the vision to provide an entirely accessible experience that would inspire musical curiosity, teach new skills and broaden musical horizons… and knock Bedford’s socks off by making lots of noise. PUNKIT was designed to be a bold and explosive participatory music work for massed percussion and was performed by 93 Year 7 students from Harrold Priory Middle School on March 23rd 2016 to an audience of 200 people at the Bedford Corn Exchange. Stunning start At the start of the programme, Youth Participation Producer, Kayte Judge was tasked with recruiting a large number of young people… enter Harrold Priory Middle School whose innovative style matched that of the project. Working with music teacher Matt Rees, PUNKIT was embedded into the Year 7 music curriculum. This 10-week rehearsal process began with Stephen and Joby making a visit to the school to share the exciting percussion techniques using both instruments and body parts. With this stunning start the techniques could then be practiced and perfected by the students led by Matt during their normal music lessons using online PunkIt resources. Marvellous Middle For some students the key to becoming wholly enrolled in PunkIt was taking part in a carousel of hands-on, unique and artistic workshops. Led by illustrator Katie Allen and graffiti artist Jason Cool the students used punk style collage and typography, combined with graffiti to create their own colourful ‘punked-up’ box to be played (and destroyed) on the night. With Stephen and Joby also delivering the next steps, Punkit was starting to take shape. Fantastic Finish At the end of the 10-week process, Joby and Stephen
On 23 November 2016, Bedford Creative Arts borrowed an artist-made dinner-set by internationally renowned collaborative Lucy + Jorge Orta from arts organisation Metal Peterborough as part of our new Contemporary Artists Bedfordshire programme. The exhibition, Lucy + Jorge Orta: Food, was a culmination of their 18-month residency with Metal and as part of this, the Orta’s encouraged people to host an art-infused meal. Comprising of unique porcelain plates, table runners, napkins and conversation starters, the dinner set intends to open up a conversation about food, food waste, food and culture and more… With the table set at award-winning food hub, Pavilion at the Park, locally sourced food was served to a group of 21 people comprising of 17 artists and 4 Bedford Creative Arts member of staff. The success of the evening was the rich conversation that happened over the course of the evening paired with the opportunity for local artists to join up, connect, share and get to know one another. We will be hosting our next Contemporary Artists Bedfordshire in January 2017. Read our blog to find out more about the dinner set.
We invited Bedford-based artist Jennifer Allen aka Quilla Constance ‘QC’ to give a performative lecture
In March 2015, just two months before the General Election, the town of Bedford saw ten of the its central commercial advertising billboards replaced with hard-hitting political cartoons.
What is a local library for? What would your dream library look like? These were questions artists Ania Bas, David Littler and Rosalie Schweiker chose to explore as part of the Library as Laboratory commission for Central Bedfordshire Libraries. Locating their project in the communities of Flitwick and Biggleswade they wanted to understand how libraries could become a place of possibility for everyone, a place beyond books. Working with local residents they developed the concept of a festival in the library, exploring the idea of ‘business NOT as usual.’ Using a DIY and self-directed approach they invited residents to imagine what their dream library might be like. Blackboards were placed inside and outside the library to gather ideas. Then, exploring the idea of creating local community archives, the artists took a stall at the Flitwick Classic Car Festival and paid 10p for joke contributions. Over 100 jokes were collected for the first ever Flitwick Joke Book. As the artists dialogue with the community continued, they developed ideas for a programme that disrupted the everyday activities of the local libraries and offered new, surprising things to do. “We wanted to look at how to build a creative, social space – a learning and making space rather than a collection of books and DVDs” says artist David Littler. In the autumn of 2015, one year on from the beginning of the project, the artists presented two Future Library Festivals to the local communities, the first, a 3-day festival in Flitwick and the second, a 1 day festival in Biggleswade. Future Library Festival Flitwick This first festival, which ran over a weekend in October 2015, introduced a wide range of surprising and unexpected activities to Flitwick residents. The artists wanted to test different ideas to understand what might prove popular and what might
The Bedford Songbook is a celebration of local artists and musicians brought together to create a book that recognises our exceptional local talent. All the songs contained in the book have been written and illustrated by Bedford folk. The Bedford Songbook recognises and embraces the folk values of arts and culture that are generated by and belong to us. This is a small sample of the musicians and artists who contribute to the living, thriving arts in our town of Bedford. Illustrated by The Circus of Illustration members and hand bound, this book of 9 original songs has been pared down to allow fellow musicians to take them and make them their own. The songs have been transcribed and edited by Roger Illingworth. With only 100 copies produced, this remarkable collection of 9 songs was launched in melodic style in November 2015. This creative showcase saw the book’s songwriters performing unique versions of each other’s songs with the Bedford Community Arts Choir performing choral versions of the Song Book arranged by Roger Illingworth. The event also provided a chance to see Bedford’s elusive ‘Lone Morris’ in an exclusive guest performance. ” Worthy work carries with it the hope of pleasure in rest, the hope of the pleasure in our using what it makes, and the hope of pleasure in our creative skill.” William Morris The musicians and artists paired together are; Rebecca de Winter and Emily Ross Betty Frances and Kristian Purcell Jack Sharp and Scarlett Tierney Johnny Parry and Katie Allen Grubby Mitts (Andy Holden)and Katie Allen Martyn Shouler and Simon Abbott Simon Gutteridge and Assim Heetun Davy Willis and David Litchfield Christian Webb and Kristina Bullen The Cover Illustration is by Marisa Straccia. To buy your copy of The Songbook click the ‘Buy Now’ button below.
Laura Pottinger brought ‘la passeggiata’ to Bedford town centre. This is the Italian tradition of taking a very slow stroll through the town before dinner. Bedfordian’s got dressed up and went for a slow stroll through the streets of Bedford, stopped for an aperitif or an ice cream, gossiped and flirted and met with friends and neighbours. Cafe’s involved were ; La Piazza open until 8pm Gallone’s Ice Cream Parlour open until 8pm Window at Pavilion in the Park open until 6pm Kiosk in the Park are open until 6pm Puddin’ Club open until 10.30pm D’parys open until to 11pm The Embankment open until to 11pm Coffee with Art 5-8pm Friday 21st & 28th August.
‘The Word Blind’ attempts to address the plights of people with sight issues using their genuine gripes about every day occurrences, taking the speech melodies to make the music. Composer Roger Illingworth worked with the people of Sight Concern in a collaborative process to create a cathartic message about the little things that full sighted people take for granted. Nine core participants took part in the production of the piece which lasted 5 minutes. The piece was based on the idea of a complaints choir. The people that took part are registered as blind or partially sighted. A volunteer from Mind worked with us and assisted with the group. A Test Beds commission. Test Beds is our new programme to experiment with artists’ work in social settings, getting artists and communities of place/or interest to work together on imaginative creative projects. Six commissions will happen over the next two years in central Bedfordshire. Contact us to find out more about the commissioning process. Test Beds is funded by the LLoyds Bank Foundation.
The Bedford Community Arts Choir is a unique music group for people of all abilities, performing specially commissioned works by local composers and arrangers. Founded in 2012 for Johnny Parry’s ‘An Anthology of All Things’, the choir followed up two sell-out performances of this spectacular new work by continuing to seek out, rehearse and perform new and innovative music. Lead by Roger Illingworth, in their first three years they have been a Complaints Choir, a Happiness Choir, developed their repertoire of local songs, known as Songs From the Wooden Hill, joined other singers as part of a Remembrance choir and performed to a sell out audience at the launch of The Bedford Songbook! They became an independent entity separate from Bedford Creative Arts in 2016. If you would like to get involved in their current projects or find out more about them click here.
We invited the people of Dunstable to dance with the wind, become part of a collective performance, and create the folklore of tomorrow.
Our Time Travellers of Dunstable commission explored the idea of ageing as a form of time travel in a unique new sound piece created by artist Julie Myers. Working with forty over 55s, Julie collected and recorded their memories and stories of the town, past and present, and their thoughts on the years ahead. “We spent the summer running wild in the woods and the fields, sometimes playing in the fountain at the Cali pool in our knitted bathing suits.” These memories could be heard at a one off event in 3 locations in Dunstable town centre in circular coloured ‘Audio Zones’ on July 2014. The work is still available to listen to online at; the Library’s virtual library Artist Julie Myers’ website A Test Beds commission. Test Beds was a programme to experiment with artists’ work in social settings, getting artists and communities of place/or interest to work together on imaginative creative projects. Test Beds is funded by the LLoyds Bank Foundation.
In 2013 the Office for National Statistics said Bedford was the unhappiest place in the country. In 2014 we proved it’s one of the happiest.Dan Thompson is a social artist, interested in making things happen as much as he is in making things. He’s created a day of happiness, a game played across Bedford town centre’s underused spaces. Dan is spent three months meeting people, exploring the town, and working with groups like the West Indian Social and Cultural Society and the Polish School. He asked people what makes them happy, mapping where in Bedford people are happy, and delving into why people like the government are talking about ‘happiness’ so much. We had Bedford Happy badges, small interventions in shops and cafes like Coffee with Art, and some inspirational posters around the town. The big Bedford Happy day took over the town centre on Saturday 29th March. People took to the streets, creating a series of momentary distractions from the normal day. There was music from Bedford Arts Choir, free fudge to be won and certificates for local people who made their fellow Bedfordians happy! You can join in with Bedford Happy online, too. There’s a Facebook page, and on Twitter search for the #bedfordhappy hashtag.
Do you walk past Bedford’s monuments and statues without a second glance on a daily basis? Do you know their meaning? Renowned choreographer and photographer Mickael Marso Riviere , international street dancer Si Rawlinson and a troupe of young street dancers from Bedford fused photography, live art and Hip Hop/Breakin dance to challenge our perspective of the well-known Silver Faces sculpture. For two weeks Bedford Creative Arts transformed the windows of the Sports Traider shop on Silver Street into a gallery displaying Marso’s images of the event.
In Autumn 2014 we worked with three Central Bedfordshire Council libraries to bring you Human Library, a worldwide initiative that promotes dialogue, reduces prejudices and encourages understanding. Human Library worked just like a normal library – open to all, readers chose from a catalogue and borrowed a Book for a limited period of time, returning it back for others to share. The twist in the Human Library is that the “Books” are people and that “reading” them involves a conversation. The Human Library has a specific purpose – to challenge stereotypes and to confront stigma, prejudice and discrimination in all forms. The experience of Human Library has the potential to change the attitudes and behaviours of all of us and help build a more inclusive, tolerant and cohesive society. When you visited the Human Library you were given a choice of Books to borrow. Part of the experience is to choose a Book that challenges you and makes you think about the way you see the people you share your community with. Human Library has become a worldwide phenomenon since it began in 2000 in Denmark. Examples of books that we had on loan included The Lonely Gays in the Village, (S)he S(he) She, Happy to be Autistic, and I can’t spell, am I thick? Our Human Library took place at Dunstable, Flitwick and Leighton Buzzard Libraries.
For our autumn 2012 commission we worked with audio visual artist Kathy Hinde, developing a new work with local singers that combined live singing with electronically altered voices.
A weekend of art made in Bedford.
For Bedford Creative Arts’ Autumn 2013 mini commission artist Jan Uprichard subverted our daily routine with a dreamlike film of a sea view ordinarily unobtainable in Bedford. The film popped up at various locations in Bedford town centre for a week in October; the bus station, the British Heart Foundation, the council one stop shop on Horne Lane and waiting area in Borough Hall. There was also the chance to make and keep your own pocket sized sea view – a flip book version of the film. At first glance the film seemed like a still image, but over time the peaceful, idyllic scene that it depicted started to go in and out of focus. There was a lighthouse with a light shining off and on during filming, which was allowed to disrupt the focus of the camera, this added to the dreamlike quality of the image. Paradigm Drift Bedford from Jan Uprichard on Vimeo.
Aaron Head was the recipient of our summer 2012 mini commission with a new public work sited on Ford End Road, Bedford, ‘Even a Stopped Clock is Right Twice a Day’. Throughout the month of November Aaron displaced the usual adverts posted at a billboard site in Queens Park. Instead he displayed a large photograph of the scene concealed behind its structure. The resulting effect was a large image that in parts subtly joined up with the scene occurring outside its border. Guided tours of Bedford also took place, watch them on YouTube:
The commission was to be an ambitious and new, large-scale work for voice and orchestra, written, composed and performed by volunteers living in Bedford.
Inspired by the rich history of lacemaking in Bedford, Bedford Creative Arts, artist Arabel Rosillo de Blas and over one hundred Bedford volunteers created the commission Lace in Place.
Our first mini commission project took place in February 2012 – where we invaded Church Arcade, in Bedford’s town centre, with local painter Kristian Purcell. We transformed an empty shop into an artist’s studio, exposing the town to the artist’s normally private creative practice. Saturday and Sunday passed busily with Kristian completing several self portraits, amidst the public passing by and popping in to chat with the artist about his work. This was the first execution of our mini commissions, where we invited proposals from professional and amateur artists, curators and producers living in the Bedfordshire area who had a good idea that aligned with our artistic policy. The successful applicants were awarded £500 to help make their idea happen.
Kathy Hinde’s interactive sound map Echo Location, commissioned by Bedford Creative Arts was specifically created for Bedford, developed over a series of workshops throughout the year. People were invited to come on ‘Walkshops’ with Kathy and assistant artist Aaron Head, using their everyday smart phone or digital sound recorders provided to record a moment in time from around the town. Out of the five walkshops two were open to the public while the other three took place with Addaction, Beds Garden Carers , and home education group PLACE . The map creates a living legacy of Bedford in 2011 which was brought to life through a public performance by Kathy at The Pad Nightclub. Each three-hour walk involved a gentle stroll around the town in the pursuit of the art of noise. As Kathy says, “Even noise can become interesting and beautiful.” Simple, fun, exciting and unexpected – the Echo Location map brings together the familiar and not so familiar noises through social media. Why not get involved? You can play Echo Location sound map here: www.echo-location.org or you can upload your own sounds by using audioboo http://audioboo.fm/ and tagging your boos ‘echo loc’. http://kathyhinde.co.uk/ www.echo-location.org
As part of the ‘The Big Draw’, the National Campaign for Drawing’s nationwide event, we commissioned Jo Roberts for The Excursionist project. Between October 15th and 22nd Jo and supporting artist Arabel Rosillo De Blas took groups of participants on ‘doodle walks’, mapping our local area through drawing, photography and communication. The project was a response to the context, history, architecture and cultural vibrancy of the Midland Rd area of Bedford. Three afternoon sessions took place, two being open for the public and the third doodle walk with members of the art and wellbeing group ‘Infinite 29’ (www.infinite29.com). Many of the participants had never been involved with a project at Bedford Creative Arts before and the level of enthusiasm and commitment to The Excursionist was clear to see when the project culminated in a bustling public presentation on Saturday 19th November at Bedford Creative Arts headquarters. It wasn’t just the drawings that made The Excursionist such a pleasure to be part of. Speaking to local people, shop owners and passers-by the project captured some enchanting stories and memories of an area that is so often an undervalued part of our town. Making art on the streets helped us here at Bedford Creative Arts connect with our surroundings since our move here last year and brought us closer to local residents who we are keen to work with in the future too. www.joroberts.net www.rosillodeblas.com
Here, the act of walking is a kind of performance in which many different situations converge, both the unexpected and those that are deliberately sought out. These different situations produce various ideas and images that contribute to our sense of place. Walking is a way of searching out new experiences, a way in which to observe the internal workings of a town, discovering points of interest, territories and hideaways. In Criss Crossing, Jordi Lafon’s residency project and exhibition at BCA Gallery, the artist used walking as a means to really see a place. The place in which the project is located is Bedford. The visual material he collected whilst walking was transferred onto the walls of BCA Gallery using pencil. This act was repeated for the duration of the exhibition, producing layer upon layer of information about the town in which he was temporarily based. Travelling to Bedford from Barcelona, Lafon viewed things in the town often overlooked by its residents. Wandering on foot and exploring its streets, he photographed the landmarks, the situations and the sights that seduced him first. A selection of the images were then projected onto the walls of the gallery, enabling him to trace with pencil the images that captivated him. As part of the Criss Crossing project Lafon led artist tours around the town of Bedford, inviting participants to contribute to the drawings that became part of the giant mural in the gallery throughout the duration of the exhibition. Lafon believes that the memory of walking through the town, and of sharing in its life, will stay with all those who experience it. The pencil drawing remained on the gallery walls for the duration of the exhibition as the tangible result, until the final act in the performance, when the gallery walls were painted, white
Lorrice Douglas produces work as if researching for a film or a novel…
This exhibition presented a body of work exploring the idea of an imaginary journey to the Antarctic.
Jane Edden’s work is concerned with the way we perceive nature, particularly birds and how we represent and reference them in everyday life. During her time in residence at BCA she focused on the birds that she found close to the gallery, primarily pigeons, rooks and swans. Although her work is inspired by and takes its imagery directly from birds it often tells us more about human behaviour than it does about our feathered friends. In Jane’s exhibition, there was a mixture of projection and film pieces as well as two installations, one of which featured a large black tree, positioned in the gallery window, catching the attention of many a passer- by! The largest wall inside the gallery was dedicated to an interactive installation called Pigeonhole. The piece comprised of hundreds of postcards depicting a pigeon on the front and a bird inspired idiom or proverb on the back, reminding visitors just how often we make reference to birds through language. The postcards imitated the life of homing pigeons, starting off at the gallery and then being set free by the artist to travel to countries all over the world, only to finally return to BCA Gallery for display in the exhibition. This project was produced whilst Jane was Artist in Residence with BCA. Although we are not currently running a residency scheme, we do have artists’ studios to rent. If you are interested, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Steve Schofield is a photographer. His practice explores the fascination that the British public has with American popular culture and the sub-cultural world of fandom. In his growing photographic series Land of the Free, Schofield shows people in their own homes wearing costumes they would dress in to attend events and conventions with other like-minded people. The work offers a glimpse into seemingly ordinary lives and allows the private to become public. The work hints at the depths of people’s fantasies and the methods they employ to adopt this culture as part of their own lifestyle as a means of escapism. Although there is a lot of humour in Schofield’s work, he is also making a strong political reference to globalisation and America’s ongoing ability to infiltrate all cultures via various channels of media. There is a certain amount of vulnerability and discomfort that radiates from the sitters which is acutely conveyed to viewers of the images. Often presented in full costumes, the sitters seem at odds with their surroundings; two Klingons sat on a sofa, Darth Vader standing in his living room and Chewbacca leaning on a kitchen worktop. Schofield’s work is intended to encourage the viewer to question the perception that others have of themselves as much as they allow us to question our perception of others.
As Bedford entered a significant era in its history BCA Gallery in association with Renaissance Bedford commissioned artist Michael Collins to make a series of vast, highly detailed, landscape photographs.
Faye Claridge is an extraordinary artist, using photography and film as her chosen means to freeze her handpicked subjects in time. In this series of work, the subjects depicted are a group of Morris dancers from Bedfordshire. Seated before a painted ‘paradise’ each Morris Man’s pose is defiant yet calm. Contrasting markers of time imbue each image with a sense of agelessness. During her residency with BCA Gallery, Claridge worked with the local Morris group over a number of months, learning about their relationships to the past and gaining an insight into their motivations for dancing. As in previous work, Claridge has constructed the environment in which the sitters appear. The effect is a style that combines Old Master paintings with theatrical staging and is influenced by portraiture of the 18th century, in composition and in the intensity of the sitters’ stare. The men pictured in this series are wearing the traditional dress of Morris dancers, an ancient art form that is usually associated with pagan fertility rites. Uniquely, these men from Bedford instead dance in honour of their townsman John Bunyan, the celebrated Puritan and writer of Pilgrim’s Progress, who ironically discouraged music and dance. This particular group are strictly against women dancing Morris and believe this unpopular stance is important to uphold for the sake of the tradition. The inclusion of ‘hooded’ portraits, and the series’ title; Only A Stranger Can Bring Good Luck, Only A Known Man Can Hang refer to the need for disguise when men were prosecuted and hung for performing ‘the Devil’s dance.’ Usually dismissed as harmless fun, these portraits show Morrisdancing as a far stranger social phenomenon that deserves closer attention. Claridge’s work often provokes contrary responses of empathy, fear and intrigue. Through presentation techniques like large-scale printing and projection, Claridge gives her
Suzanne Mooney’s work reconsiders how we look at the world through representation by exploring the medium and the apparatus of photography itself. The relationship between production, function and mediation of the photographic image is central to her practice. Employing diverse photographic techniques, appropriated images and found objects, Mooney’s work is a conceptual play with the processes involved in image making. While artist in residence at BCA Suzanne concentrated on exploring new directions for her work. Integral to the research was the accumulation of source material; collecting huge numbers of photography manuals and displaced souvenirs from local outlets, culminated in the production of a new bodies of work; Souvenirs of Bedford. Souvenirs of Bedford focused on a collection of objects gathered from various charity shops acrossBedford. These souvenirs shared a commonality in that they were all for sale in the same location, but all originate from elsewhere. As mementos of travel they have been abstracted from their original function to serve as traces of authentic experience and to conjure up nostalgic memories, in Bedford these souvenirs are redundant. Mooney’s work asks why she or indeed anyone would want to purchase a souvenir from a place they are not. By displaying these trinkets in the space along with postcards representing the objects, the exhibition was more in keeping with the museum shop than a gallery. This series continued Mooney’s interest in the function of everyday objects and how through different juxtapositions, new functions can arise. This project was produced whilst Suzanne was Artist in Residence with BCA. Although we are not currently running a residency scheme, we do have artists’ studios to rent. If you are interested, please email email@example.com
In her new body of work ‘A Glimpse of the Familiar’ produced as part of a residency with BCA Gallery, Joanna Clark has focused her attentions on presenting the various fragments that make up her world. ‘A Glimpse of the Familiar’ includes over 100 quiet, yet evocative images, combining landscape with portraiture, colour and black and white in a photographic installation that speaks volumes. Although deeply personal, Clark’s work is universally relevant. Clark’s photography rejects any formal composition, comparing stylistically to film stills or to documentary photography depicting the charm of ordinary life. Clark’s work introduces the viewer to the people and places with whom she shares an intimate relationship. As subjects captured in her photographs they appear fascinating, beautiful and timeless, the photograph often revealing what is sometimes hidden or overlooked in life. Clark’s treatment of nature could be described as reverential, responding to every seasonal change, portraying bare branches to blossom then leaves to berries. The nature depicted is not pruned or tidy in fact Clark seems drawn to nature at its most wild and untamed, completely at ease with its surroundings. Man’s intervention in the landscape is always present though, the images feature subtle hints of this such as mown grass, farm land or a built structure on the horizon. The people in Clark’s pictures are utterly natural and comfortable with her. She is the fly on their living room wall, present during their picnics and country walks documenting their quiet moments, and seeing their world through her eyes. This project was produced whilst Joanne was Artist in Residence with BCA. Although we are not currently running a residency scheme, we do have artists’ studios to rent. If you are interested, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Aaron Head’s intriguing exhibition combined the mediums of sculpture, installation and film to further explore his preoccupation with food and drink and their intricate social role in contemporary, multicultural Britain. One film piece ‘Terrace’ depicted a subtle intervention on Bedford’s High Street, featuring a small model of a typical terrace house constructed from sliced white bread, placed on the pavement during a busy lunch hour. The house adopted a cute sense of domesticity and home life, which marked stark contrast to the hustle and bustle that surrounded it, making it appear threatened and vulnerable. Within each of the installations, there were a number of sculptural pieces that broadly related to food production and cultural identity. Images ©Aaron Head.
I Do Not Understand My Own Actions focused on the patterns of behaviour that become habitual in relationships.
Dodgem is a film that follows the central character, Dominic From Luton, and his obsession with his own meticulously customised dodgem car. He travels from fairground to fairground throughout the south east of England in a Luton van, dressed in a white leather costume and helmet. Both his costume and the dodgem display icons from yesteryear. When he arrives at each fairground he gets into his dodgem and drives it into the arena where he relentlessly smashes it into the the path of the other dodgems. Through the central character the film explores the sadness behind nostalgia and the idea that when an individual is living for the past failure is inevitable. The film gives a sense of Groundhog Day, each act constantly repeated but nothing achieved.
Agnieszka’s project, Territories’ explored the way that one’s immediate environment affects how one feels.
As part of the Accession project BCA worked with Polish artists Ziemowit Maj and Piotr Kowalski.
Matt Cook collects noise. As a sound and performance artist Matt is fascinated by different rhythmic structures that exist within the urban environment. Whilst working as artist in Residence with BCA, Matt walked around to discover what makes Bedford tick. He collected sound recordings, and took photographs to create Stereography: stereophonic geography, an installation that comprised of a playful and quirky map of Bedford with sound accompaniment. It was Matt’s intention to make his Bedford map as colourful sonically as it was visual. Trees made from pencils spun majestically on cheap cassette players. Toy aircraft were fitted with speakers and plastic people whizzed around in circles. Sections of moving audiotape climbed the gallery walls. The combination of all the sound makers working simultaneously produced a chaotic cacophony, an ever changing soundscape that worked with the visual material to capture the character of Bedford. You can find out more about Matt by visiting his web page at www.sciencefidelity.co.uk/ and see a video he made of the project here. This project was produced whilst Matt was Artist in Residence with BCA. Although we are not currently running a residency scheme, we do have artists’ studios to rent. If you are interested, please email email@example.com
When Dinu Li was just seven years old, his family left Hong Kong and emigrated to the UK. His departure from the east and arrival in the west affected him profoundly. In Age of Transition, Li revisits this unsettling period of his life exploring the interactions that result when different cultures meet. He transformed the appearance of the gallery spaces with his intriguing video and sound installation that features photographs, memorabilia, found objects, and a world atlas with musical accompaniment from the Western film soundtrack to Dr Zhivago. The soundtrack acts as the point of commonality where both eastern and western cultures meet and could be heard playing throughout the exhibition. You can find out more about Dinu’s work by visiting his website . His publication ‘The Mother of all Journeys’ also explores this time in his life. This project was produced whilst Dinu was Artist in Residence with BCA.
Rush Hour was a series of images that empathised with the plight of the commuter
Radio 101 was an exhibition and FM radio station broadcasting from our former Gallery on Bedford High Street.
Window on the World was an exhibition of an extraordinary body of work by pinhole photographer Nilu Izadi. Constructing cameras from boxes and tins of all shapes and sizes, Izadi captures the world around her in a series of beautiful and mysterious photographs. The artist describes it as an unpredictable process where one gently plays with chance and time. This exhibition included photographs taken from around the world using a biscuit tin and colour film. We are presented with a unique and intense view of her travels through India, America and the Caribbean. Experimenting with multi-aperture cameras, film and colour processing, Izadi pushes the boundaries of pinhole photography with a body of work that is truly breathtaking. In the lead up to this project BCA opened its exciting Cameravan, as part of Project called Reflect and Magnify at what is now The Higgins Museum in Bedford. Stepping into this converted caravan was like climbing inside a giant camera. An image of the view outside is projected via a rooftop lens onto a table, giving you an unusual view of the world around you. The BCA team created this Camera Obscura to demonstrate the science of light and lenses and to show how these principles relate to photography. Assisted in its conversion by local artist Susannah Oliver and the Youth Offending Team, the Cameravan became a portable resource for workshops with schools and community groups throughout the borough.
Cambridge based artist and photographer Kay Goodridge explored stories and relationships hidden within a series of found photographs.
Over the period of one year Wales-based performance artist Andre Stitt performed a series of eight live art performances in Bedford town and the surrounding rural areas.
Donut was the first exhibition at BCA Gallery; a multi-screen film installation by Mike Stubbs.
Inspired by the Mike Stubbs exhibition at BCA, this collaborative project brought together work by local women photographers and film makers.
‘The Eyrie Roar’ was a phrase coined in the fifties to describe the atmosphere at Bedford Town Football Club
This arts project encouraged children in the Queens Park, Bedford to look at the community in which they live
Time on our Hands was a project that began in 1993, offering older people a chance to try a broad range of arts activities, whilst meeting new people, gaining new skills and enjoying new experiences.