Regional Visits - Exeter
Hannah Rose, VASW’s Sector Development Manager, spent the day in Exeter meeting with different arts professionals and hearing more about what they do.
Part of VASW’s work is to connect with organisations across the South West Region. One of our core aims is to promote and advocate for organisations to increase recognition of the visual arts; these visits helps us grow our understanding of their work and specific context, informing our ongoing approach.
In March, Hannah, our Sector Development Manager, spent the day in Exeter meeting with different arts professionals and hearing more about what they do.
First up, Hannah met with Kathy Norris who is the Visual Art Programme Coordinator at Exeter Phoenix. Kathy manages a programme of classes, workshops, projects, and events that support the development of artists and offer rich creative activity for the local community. Kathy also oversees the brilliant youth groups Freefall & Freefall+. These two groups offer regular creative activity run by local arts professionals for young people aged 13-16 and 16-25, and their carers. Another excellent new initiative is their monthly CREATIVE HUB digital publication, which shares updates on creative activity in Exeter including exhibitions, events, and opportunities.
There is so much going on at Exeter Phoenix! A public gallery with regular exhibitions, a busy cafe and bar, music gigs, a cinema, Double Elephant Print Workshop, and loads more.
Next Hannah went to visit Positive Light Projects a not for profit organisation using the visual arts to engage and inspire a diverse range of audiences and communities. With a focus on community based, socially engaged creative practice, Positive Lights runs out of an impressive three story building on Sidwell Street, which they transformed with the help of local community support and investment. In this space they offer studios for artists, workshops for community groups, and a valuable space for hire. Whilst Hannah was there she saw the Pelican Press Wheelchair Printing Press in action - a handmade press that incorporates the weight of a wheelchair as the main printing element. The Pelican Project supports young people leaving special education with a programme of social and cultural activities.
Hannah then hightailed it to University of Exeter to meet Sarah Campbell, Associate Director, and Cerise Johnson Bird, Administrator, for Arts and Culture, University of Exeter; whose mission is to champion creativity by providing the time, space, and opportunities needed for creative and interdisciplinary collaborations to flourish.
Sarah and Cerise shared how Arts and Culture celebrate interdisciplinary practice and focus on sharing and revealing the creative process. One of their key programmes is Creative Fellowships, which offers placements that bring creative practitioners into research settings, encouraging cross-disciplinary exchange. From a poet working with a maritime expert, and artists working within the Humanities, Arts and Social Science Faculty; to a comedian working within the Department for Modern Languages and Culture. They also offer commission opportunities for artists, host online exhibitions, and run an events programme of discussions.
Finally, Hannah met with Stuart Crewes who runs Art Work Exeter and a number of great projects; including Inky Fingers Workshop, a book making/binding group for people with disabilities, and Collage Club, a regular drop in making session for people to get creative with collage.
Art Work Exeter (previously Art Week Exeter) run an annual programme of activity and is currently working towards Art Week Exeter 2023, which builds on years of delivering ambitious city wide festivals of art presented in both art and non-art spaces and the public realm.
Thank you to everyone for the warm welcome and for showing us around!
For more regular updates about what is going on in Exeter please sign up to the CREATIVE HUB newsletter and all of these organisations newsletters.