Modes of Practice in an Age of Austerity

'Turning the Place Over' by Richard Wilson. Photograph by Glen Stoker


Delivered by Artists Emily Speed, Rich White and Anna Francis.

Event Date and Times: Saturday, 12th March, 1.30pm – 4.30pm
Event Venue: The Exchange, 8 Cheapside, City Centre, Stoke-on-Trent ST1 1HE

How do we survive the cuts without sacrificing or compromising our practice, ethics and professionalism?
Modes of Practice in an Age of Austerity is an event for artists and other creative practitioners to explore and discuss strategies for survival in a time where cuts threaten to obliterate the art world in the U.K. and beyond.

Artist Emily Speed will talk about her practice and approach to ‘Getting Paid’ as discussed in her a-n blog.

Artist Rich White will discuss how he assesses opportunities not just on how much money they bring in, but in terms of other benefits as well, and how a practitioner whose work is not saleable in the traditional sense survives in these difficult times. Download PDF of State of Practice, an essay by Rich White.

The event will culminate in a group discussion activity which will aim to create a dialogue and explore the issues that artists face in light of the cuts, we will then come up with strategies for avoiding bad practice. We will aim to set out ideals and a set of rules which will form the manifesto: Modes of Practice in an Age of Austerity, which will be turned into a working document designed by Rich White, Emily Speed and Anna Francis – and will form a petition for artists to sign up to after the event.

Be part of something important. Please email: to book a place for this timely event.

About the Artists

Emily Speed: My most recent research has been based around the vulnerability and the temporary nature of things. I often use architectural forms in my work as it represents, for me, the most poignant example of transience; man’s attempt to create permanence and legacy through building. I am also interested in the way that architecture can act as a metaphor for our internal selves (the body as a building that houses the mind) and with the enduring sense of memory and/or personal identity that is often embedded into or linked with particular sites.

My work, which comprises installations, drawings, artists’ books and sculptures, often seems to exist in an in-between state where it can be difficult to ascertain whether works are in a half-built or half-derelict state. I often build quite lonely, isolated structures, with a seemingly short life; shelters offering the briefest respite, and storage that can hold only the smallest, lightest items.

The dependency of the work on the environment in which it is built and shown is also something that interests me greatly; my work is often balanced, propped, wedged or held together through tension. Literature is also of great influence, and fiction often features heavily in my work, whether through the creation of fictional places, written text or the imposition of a new history onto a place.

Rich White:

‘My current work involves physically altering (or appearing to alter) existing architecture in public and exhibition spaces. These architectural interventions are developed specifically for their location through research and site visits; responding to the architecture, history and current happenings in the area.

‘Through this I create a narrative or story that I feel evokes the collective subconscious – a visual reference that seeks to provoke thoughts about the location by drawing on elements of the locale. The final work often takes a simple form or pattern of structure which is intended to resonate with the viewer through its unexpected familiarity.

‘The work is built on-site often from materials found or reclaimed in the vicinity and integrated into the existing architecture. Afterwards the materials are recycled or returned for reuse. This conveys a connection to its location and influences its development. The work is at the whim of the materials I can find and at the mercy of their limitations.

‘It is about making it work, about adapting ideas to changing situations, and creating an inspiring experience for the viewer which challenges their perception and causes them to question what they see.’

Anna Francis: Anna Francis is an artist whose practice examines private histories, public space and civic languages; using forms of intervention, mapping, performance, consultation and photography to investigate the impact of art and culture on the regeneration of cities.

Anna Francis has been a Lecturer in Fine Art at Staffordshire University since 2005.

Francis has exhibited widely across the UK and beyond and has project managed and designed various art platforms which provide opportunities for other artists to investigate the city as a site for exploration and development. These include Interrogation: Walsall in 2009 (delivered from the New Art Gallery Walsall) and Interrogation: West Bromwich in 2010. In 2010 a book to document and set out the process of Interrogation was published. (‘Interrogation Walsall: a handbook’ ISBN: 978-0-9563457-1-4).

Ongoing participatory project ‘There is Beauty in the City’ is an online project, where participants apply for a magnet, which they can place anywhere in their respective cities that they find beauty – photograph the location and send it in to the project blog. This is resulting in a catalogue of images from around the world, forming a consensus on the beauty to be found in urban space. In 2010 the project lead to exhibitions in the  Leiden – Netherlands, Gijon – Spain and inclusion in a performance event in Bristol – UK.

Anna is a studio artist and board member at AirSpace Gallery, and has been developing the education strand at the gallery and in developing the studio based activities, managing the Group Project Common Ground, which took place in a city park in June 2010. Anna is also very involved in setting up various artists networking and development events in Stoke-on-Trent, in partnership with other local artists: for example Pecha Kucha, Stoke-on-Trent and Headtalk.

For more information and images of work please go to

Or for day to day activities.

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One Response to Modes of Practice in an Age of Austerity

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