The BBC has launched Your Paintings, a website which aims to show the entire UK national collection of oil paintings, the stories behind the paintings, and where to see them. It is made up of paintings from thousands of museums and other public institutions around the UK, including the Arts Council Northern Ireland’s own collection of recent acquisitions. www.bbc.co.uk/arts/yourpaintings
Five Northern Ireland groups need your vote as they are about to go head to head with other National Lottery-funded projects from across the UK in the semi-finals of The National Lottery Awards 2011. The Awards recognise the difference that Lottery-funded projects – both big and small – make to local communities.
The semi-finalists have been shortlisted for the big difference they have made with Lottery money, and people in Northern Ireland are being urged to cast a vote, from Tuesday 31 May, to help them make it through to the final.
Details on The Arts Council Northern Ireland website
Ruth E. Lyons profiles ‘Mercedes Fire’, an artist-led seven-day touring summer school.
As it becomes increasingly the norm for more art colleges to offer the continued study of visual arts practices at masters and doctorate level, there is a greater demand on artists to obtain higher levels of academic qualifications. I am interested what effect this increase in time spent by artists in development within institutes of education has on the character of contemporary art.
Colleges can provide a shelter for artists – giving them space to develop – but these institutions also inform, passing down knowledge and perpetuating schools of thought. Past a certain point in the development of one’s art practice, I’ve been wondering if the shelter of the art college actually encourages a shirking of responsibilities? Shouldn’t artists claim independent agency over their own learning?
In light of these questions, I have become interested in alternative models of learning and peer critique – that can offer an alternative to formal education while still providing a sense of community and collaboration. As I personally experienced in the course of the ‘Mercedes Fire’ summer school 2010 (1), there is an amazing sense of generosity and camaraderie within the art community in Ireland, which openly invites the free formation of alternative models of social engagement and learning within it.
A new campaign, I Value the Arts, went live on Monday 13 September 2010 urging the public to voice their support for the arts. Anyone who values the arts in their community is being asked to register their details on a new website: www.ivaluethearts.org.uk. All those who register will be kept in touch with plans that could affect arts provision nationally and in their local neighbourhood, with practical suggestions on what they can do to strengthen the arts in their area.
I Value the Arts is led by the National Campaign for the Arts (NCA), the independent umbrella body for all the arts in the UK. Industry bodies are lining up to support the promotion of the campaign, including the Society of London Theatre, the Theatrical Management Association, Visual Arts and Galleries Association, the Association of British Orchestras, Equity and Audiences UK. The campaign website and associated technology has been made possible thanks to generous donations of skills, time and resources by industry suppliers. No public money is being used to fund the campaign.
Louise de Winter, Director of the NCA commented: “Three quarters of the adult population attend or participate in arts activities every year and an even higher proportion of young people. At a time of recession, more and more people are turning to the arts and culture. Reduced opportunities to take part in the arts could have a major impact on the quality of people’s lives and the vibrancy of their communities. As the Government is encouraging us all to get engaged and create a ‘Big Society’, we believe it is important for those people who care about the arts to get involved in the decisionmaking about what their communities will look like. This campaign gives everyone who cares a chance to have their voice heard and collectively show that the arts provide a valued public service.
“This is a really simple and straightforward campaign. It will take thirty seconds for someone to visit the www.ivaluethearts.org.uk website to register their email address and postcode, and then we’ll be able to keep them up to date with information about plans for their local area. The website will go live from 9am on Monday, 13 September.
With a wide base of support within the sector, we hope this campaign will gain public momentum and snowball throughout the UK.”