Many years ago an Associate Artist at Chapel Art Studios described CAS as the ship of fools. We didn’t know who we were or where we were going, we just knew we were doing something. A more glowing way of putting this was described by curator August Jordan Davis when she introduced us at The Power of Two symposium as always “dynamic, exciting and ambitious”. It’s always been a strength so far.
For a long time our founder David was manning the ship alone, and the Associates group was borne as a way of expanding the number of crew on deck. An informal peer-group, growing together. Who are we? What are we doing? What does Dissent mean exactly? We set off and generated new opportunities such as the pop up shop and Laboratory of Dissent in 2015, then we went below decks into a period of introspection. By early 2017 we could articulate ourselves a bit better and set about applying to become a national portfolio organisation so that we could sustain the programs and offers we had developed.
So now we are three. Susan and I joined the team just over 6 months ago. We are expanding and extending on the things we have always done, inspiring, educating, challenging, including, and engaging artists audiences and partners in a dynamic and exciting program of support, education and artistic activity.
There is something of the domestic about the Associates group when we come together. We share food and sit around tables and reflect back to one another the conditions inspirations and opportunities in our work. Which is why we did a group drawing on a table cloth a while back, it looks a bit like a sail in this context. Almost.
Rather than a studio space for artists (it’s actually too small for all of us) the chapel has always been the ship that takes us places, and a place to shelter from the storms in life (yes the boat rolls wildly then, that’s life) and someone says “remember you’re an artist! You’ve got this!” and it is true. (Well, it works for me.)
The studio is also a deconsecrated chapel fondly known as The Dissenters Chapel, a nod to historical maps, and our ethos of creative questioning.
Whilst I like to think there is something of the fool about us in the sense of taking a leap, trusting the process, and imagining the previously inconceivable, we have also had 10 years of growth in which we have figured out some things that work.
- Trusting and paying artists to do their work
- Building relationships through collaboration and information sharing
- Inspiring young people and each other and posing invitations to experiment, discover and connect.
We will be celebrating our 10 year anniversary this year and inviting you to learn more about the past present and future of CAS. Hopefully by offering you some fun and interesting experiences! I look forward to hearing your memories and stories from the last 10 years at CAS as well.
Since 2014 I have poured my heart energy and time into this collective of artists because I believe that together we can do great things, and keep learning as we go. We bring art to communities by partnering with community organisations, education to young people most notably through artists residencies in schools, and support artists with the help of those who know what it is to be an artist (our Associates).
We set out to challenge, inspire, engage, challenge and include people in all our activities. It keeps things dynamic, exciting, and ambitious.
If you are interested in becoming a CAS Associate Artist please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org For more information.
Or anyone can sign up for our newsletter so you will be the first to know about what events and invitations we will be offering our wider network this year.